High school: Curie.
Team highlights: Ranked No. 1 by the Tribune, Curie won the Pontiac Holiday Tournament and its first city championship in a four-overtime thriller against Young. The Condors also beat the nation's No. 1 team (Montverde, Fla.) and swept two games against Simeon, but they had to forfeit it all for playing with academically ineligible players. Alexander was not among them.
Individual highlights: His tip dunk at the buzzer completed a 37-point, 26-rebound performance and lifted Curie past West Aurora 74-73 in the Pontiac semifinals. Powerful and athletic with a non-stop motor, the McDonald's All-American and consensus top-five recruit nationally will go down as one of the most physically gifted and entertaining big men Chicago has ever produced. He averaged 24 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots.
FYI: Alexander did not play organized basketball until eighth grade.
Repeated: "His improvement from freshman year until now is incredible." — Young center Jahlil Okafor
High school: Stevenson.
Team highlights: Beat 11 Tribune Top 20 teams en route to a 32-2 record, including a win against Class 3A champ Morgan Park, Class 4A runner-up Benet and Simeon. Won the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, ascended to the No. 1 Tribune ranking and reached the Class 4A final four for the second straight season before falling to eventual-champion Young in the state semifinals.
Individual highlights: His season ended on a sour note, but the two-time first team All-State point guard had as many moments of glory as anyone. He set a state-tournament record with 56 points in the semifinal loss to Young, but it only equaled the career-high he set against Lake Forest a month earlier. He averaged 26.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.9 steals with a glowing field-goal percentage of 51.
FYI: The son of former NBA guard Rick Brunson has become a recruiting priority for many top college programs, including Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan and Kansas.
Repeated: "He will be the best point guard in the country next year." — Simeon coach Robert Smith
High school: Young
Team highlights: Took on all comers – nationally and locally – en route to the Class 4A state championship. Overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to defeat Orr in the Public League semifinals and rallied again to unseat four-time defending champion Simeon in the Class 4A sectionals. Beat nationally-ranked Oak Hill (Va.) and Prime Prep (Texas) and finished with the No. 10 ranking in the final USA Today Super 25.
Individual highlights: The consensus No. 1 prospect nationally and the McDonald's/Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year, Okafor's dominance and unselfishness proved to be an indomitable combination. He had 33 points on 13-of-15 shooting against Stevenson in the state semifinals a game after handing out seven assists in a supersectional rout. He had season-highs of 40 points against Churchill (Ore.) and 23 rebounds against Providence (Fla.) and averaged 24.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and three blocked shots.
FYI: He earned three gold medals with USA Basketball and was named first team all-tournament at the FIBA Under-19 World Championship last summer.
Repeated: "When you look at what a team has to do, what everybody that plays us does, they force everything they know to try to stop him and he still finds a way to beat you. There is not another big man in this city or this country that can score the ball and is that deserving of pressure as Jahlil. He is the MVP of the world." — Young coach Tyrone Slaughter
High school: Benet
Team highlights: A murderous schedule had the Redwings (25-8) ready for the postseason. The Class 4A runner-up overcame a late seven-point deficit to defeat Glenbard North in the supersectional and stymied Edwardsville 38-33 in the state semifinals before giving Young all it could handle in a 48-46 state-final loss.
Individual highlights: Whether he was posting consecutive 39-point games against Larkin and St. Viator, 36 against Marian Catholic or 22 against Glenbard North, O'Mara's mere presence was Benet's biggest asset. He led the Redwings in rebounding in every game but one and averaged 24 points and 13 boards.
FYI: Benet's No. 1 career scorer with 1,674 points was also a dominant left tackle for its football team.
Repeated: "I assumed he was going to eventually concentrate on basketball, and he said no, he loves football. I said, 'What if a college basketball coach doesn't want you to play football?' He said, 'I won't be interested in that school.' '" — Benet football coach Pat New
High school: Marian Catholic.
Team highlights: Swept its eight games in the tough East Suburban Catholic Conference and went 28-3 overall. An early-season 11-game winning streak included victories in Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan and a second consecutive McDipper tournament title. They later won 13 straight and defended their sectional title before falling to Edwardsville in the supersectional.
Individual highlights: His quickness, ball-handling and vision make him a highlight machine and overshadow the fact that he's also a great shooter. He scored 33 points to overcome a 20-point deficit and beat Class 4A runner-up Benet for the first time, and 35 of his career-high 42 points came in the second half of a 67-63 victory against Lake Forest in the City-Suburban Showdown. He averaged 23 points, 6.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 steals while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 86 percent from the free-throw line.
FYI: The only McDonald's All-American under 6-foot , Ulis suffered a toe injury that limited him during the Spartans'overtime loss to Edwardsville in the supersectional.
Repeated: "It is a bad idea to try to cover Tyler Ulis one-on-one." — St. Viator coach Mike HowlandCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun