Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may be the most influential political figure in the Windy City.
In basketball circles, Chicago Simeon coach Robert Smith and Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter have similar influence.
Even Emanuel recognizes that.
So when the coaches of the two Chicago Public League powers met with the mayor to discuss bringing a major prep basketball showcase to town, he took the time to listen.
"About two months ago the coaches came to me and asked if they had my support," Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I said they had a yes as soon as they walked in. It was high time we hosted an event in the city of Chicago."
Saturday, the city will.
The Chicago Elite Classic will be held at the University of Illinois-Chicago, marking the first time since the mid-1990s the city has played host to a national shootout.
"Our hope is that Chicago will come out and witness something spectacular," Slaughter told the Sun-Times.
Considering Simeon senior Jabari Parker and Whitney Young junior Jahlil Okafor will be in the mix, it's a safe bet something special will take place.
Simeon and Whitney Young are two of six Chicago area teams that will participate in the event. Proviso East, Westchester St. Joseph, Chicago De La Salle and Chicago Phillips are also involved.
Among the top national teams in the field are Milton, Ga., DeMatha, Md., and Lone Park, Utah, which is ranked No. 6 in the nation according to MaxPreps.
Approximately 30 of the top 100 seniors in the country will be participating.
Keeping tabs: Illinois coach John Groce didn't take much time to fight off jet lag.
Less than 36 hours after the Illini won the Maui Invitational championship, Groce was back in the Land of Lincoln and in a high school gym. He showed up at Washington High School for the Tournament of Champions and the chance to watch Chicago St. Rita guard Charles Matthews.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore led St. Rita to a 59-47 victory over Champaign Central with Groce in attendance, scoring 17 points to go along with 13 rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
Groce offered Matthews a scholarship last summer.
Shouldering the load: Senior point guard Nick Van Osdale understands the Belleville West roster is largely inexperienced.
"They're seniors, but they haven't played much varsity time," Van Osdale told the Belleville News-Democrat. "It is going to be difficult for them early on, but I don't think I have to have great games. I have a lot of confidence in my teammates. I think they can play."
If they follow his lead, they'll be just fine.
Van Osdale scored a career-high 43 points in leading the Maroons to a 60-54 victory in the opening round of the St. Louis Vianney Invitational.
The 6-foot-2 guard went 12 of 20 from the field, made six 3-pointers and finished 13 of 17 from the free-throw line. Belleville West held off Vianney as Van Osdale went 11 of 14 from the line in the fourth quarter.
"It all started with my teammates. They were getting me the ball in good positions," Van Osdale said. "I give it up to my teammates. They made great passes, great screens and the shots were just falling tonight."
Career night: Keenan Minor knows how to put an exclamation point on a championship.
The Cahokia senior forward scored a career-high 37 points as the Comanches beat Seton Academy 87-72 to finish the Lincoln Thanksgiving Tournament 5-0. Minor went 10 for 16 from the field and 12 for 14 from the line.
"Keenan was lights out. Typical Keenan," Cahokia coach Darian Nash told the Nesws-Democrat. "That was the only game I've seen where it came so effortless for him. It was one of the best games I've seen him play."
Minor is one of the reasons Cahokia believes it can be a Class 3A contender. Winning the season-opening tournament is a good start.
"When we won it, it was like, ‘OK, we came here and did what we were supposed to do,'" Nash said. "It's good for the community and the district. And it's a confidence-booster for the guys."
Finishing touches: Springfield Southeast trailed Pekin 55-53 with less than a minute to play in the title game of Decatur's Team Soy Capital Turkey Tournament before the experienced Spartans made critical plays.
First, Jagger Anderson knocked down a 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining to give Southeast a one-point lead. Herman Senor followed up by making four straight free throws in the waning seconds as the Spartans won the tournament for the first time.
Anderson and Senor, both three-year varsity players, led Southeast with 18 points apiece.