One plays the game as it was originally intended. The other does things Dr. James Naismith and his cohorts probably didn't envision.
Chasson Randle is a straight-A student and pass-first shooting guard who will transition to the point at Stanford after leading Rock Island to its first state championship in the program's 112-year history.
Ryan Boatright is a shoot-first point guard who hopes to take over for national-player-of-the-year-candidate Kemba Walker at Connecticut next season after turning East Aurora games into must-see spectacles this winter.
Twice a week during the offseason, Randle drives two-and-a-half hours each way to the western suburbs to practice with a highly respected AAU program he credits with "bringing out the animal in me."
Boatright has been in the spotlight since orally committing to Southern California as an eighth-grader and shares a South Side mentor with Derrick Rose.
Boatright and Randle are as different as the directions they'll be heading in a few months, but 142 voters could not decide between them.
Teammates this weekend at an all-star game in Houston, they are the first co-winners in the 31-year history of the Mr. Basketball of Illinois award, sponsored by the Chicago Tribune and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
Each finished with 257 points and 35 first-place votes in a statewide vote by media and schools. Morgan Park's Wayne Blackshear, a Louisville recruit, finished third (198), followed by Kentucky recruit Anthony Davis (120) of Perspectives-MSA and Northwestern-bound David Sobolewski (90) of Benet.
"I was really surprised to hear my name," Randle said. "For it to be a tie is a shock."
"It's crazy," Boatright said. "Especially because it never happened before."
In the beginning
The first time Reggie Rose heard about Boatright, the eighth-grader was accepting Tim Floyd's scholarship offer before he knew which high school he would attend.
A few months later, Rose, the older brother and father figure to Derrick Rose, took the first of what would be many drives to Aurora.
"He didn't have a great game," said Reggie Rose, who runs the Derrick Rose All-Stars AAU program. "He was like 2-for-14. His shots wouldn't go down, but the thing I noticed was he constantly played defense. He wouldn't give up. Once I knew he had heart, that made me want to get him for my summer team."
Nearly as different from the deferential Simeon version of Derrick Rose as he is from Randle, Boatright already had a big reputation at the time. But he didn't have the gall to ignore criticism from Reggie Rose.
"I basically had to show Ryan how to get into a set," Rose said. "You can't just come down and jack these balls up. I used to run 10 or 12 plays, but with Ryan I cut it to four or five quick-hitters, maybe a couple ball screens, a big man flashing to the elbow, to make sure he got the team into a set.
"Once the team was into the set, we might run a clear out on side. It was kind of hard for him at first. He just wants to win. He learned that as long as you make your bigs happy, get them a couple early shots, they don't mind you shooting 20 times as long as you're winning."
Boatright didn't have any post players to dump the ball to this season, and East Aurora lacked a consistent secondary scorer that defenses were afraid to leave in order to double- or triple-team the 5-foot-11 dynamo.
Boatright averaged 31.2 points and scored more than 40 seven times, but as far as East Aurora (24-6) is concerned, nothing topped the 29 points, six assists and five rebounds he had March 8, because the Tomcats handed then-No. 1 Benet its only loss of the season, 60-52 in a sectional semifinal.
"A lot of people misunderstand me," Boatright said. "I am a competitor. I want to win. I always say if y'all are open I'm going to hit you. In the summer I had a teammate average 25 points, and all he did was dunk off passes from me."
Mr. More Than Basketball
Mention Randle to anyone who knows him, and start a stopwatch. It probably will tick for minutes before the conversation turns to basketball.
"Anywhere he has ever played — the Quad Cities, high school, USA Basketball, the (Illinois) Wolves and NBA camp — every coach everywhere, even fans, comment on his class and character," said Mike Mullins, the leader of the Illinois Wolves.
"And everybody says that before they start talking about his basketball abilities, which are tremendous. He is just a special, special young man."
Before leading Rock Island to the state championship this season, averaging 21.7 points on just 14 field-goal attempts per game, the 6-2 Randle was the brightest star on an AAU team that featured one-third of the 15-member Tribune All-State team.
On several occasions this summer, the only person who prevented Randle from exploding for 30 or 40 was Randle.
"There were times he could go get 14, 16, 18 points for us, and that would be enough," Mullins said. "There would be other times we'd say, 'Today you need to be special.' We had a game in July against a team with two McDonald's All-Americans. Chasson had 19 at halftime, and he came to me and said, 'Make sure everyone else gets time. They need to get their scholarship, too.'
"I've had kids who thought that or have been good with that as teammates, but I've never had a kid come up to me at halftime when he can go for 40 in front of (national analysts) Bob Gibbons and Dave Telep and say make sure these other guys are in."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun