Boys Basketball

Alexander, Okafor to collide with city title on line

Young's Jahlil Okafor guards Curie's Cliff Alexander

Young's Jahlil Okafor and Ausar Madison (21) double team Curie's Cliff Alexander during Young's 62-58 win in IHSA Class 4A Sectional semifinal at Argo on Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune / March 7, 2013)

Being labeled the No. 1 player in the country has no actual value.

There are no endorsement opportunities to cash in on. It doesn't somehow make a scholarship worth more. It has no bearing on the 2015 NBA draft and it comes with no guarantee of professional or collegiate success.

It doesn't really mean anything. But Jahlil Okafor or Cliff Alexander haven't gone on record saying that.

The "Clash of the Titans 2014" is on. While the two meetings in past seasons between the two current best high school players in the nation settled nothing, 7,000 some-odd folks will be judging their every move Friday night at Chicago State in the Public League championship game between No. 1 Curie and No. 3 Young.

Alexander, for his part, did not bother to feign indifference over his next opponent in the minutes between Curie's semifinal victory over Hyde Park and the beginning of Young's comeback against Orr on Wednesday.

"That," Alexander said, "is the matchup I want."

True to form, Okafor, a Duke signee, did not take the bait after Young's win Wednesday night, talking only in terms of team.

But Kansas signee Alexander, in this dynamic, is the hunter. He's been better than good all season, yet Cliff still is ranked in the top five nationally by most recruiting services.

That fate probably was sealed when he decided to play for the Mac Irvin Fire, Okafor's AAU team, last summer.

Curie coach Mike Oliver advised him against it, telling him the only way he was going to supplant Okafor was by playing against him.

Not only is a city title at stake, but these two could go down as the two best bigs Chicago has ever produced, especially if you disqualify South Carolinians (Kevin Garnett) from that subjective list.

The chance of a fourth meeting at the Marist Sectional is good, but the size of that gym is modest.

Public League final

Who: Curie vs. Young.

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Where: Chicago State.

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2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
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