CPL Basketball Squads Impress at Romeoville Live Weekend

By Dominic Scianna

If you’re a basketball-crazed fan in the Illinois area, this past weekend would have served as a must see with some of the best teams in the city and state competing from morning until early evening. That format was featured in a three-day basketball extravaganza (June 23-25) at the Romeoville Live Summer Shootout in the town’s Athletic and Event Center.

The Romeoville Live Summer Shootout welcomes college basketball coaches from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) DI, DII, and DIII university and college institutions, as well as city and junior college programs from all across the country. The weekend competition is a certified event made possible by the NCAA and the National Foundation of High Schools (NFHS).

Games began as early as 8 a.m with top-tier Illinois state high school basketball teams, 12 of which were from the Chicago Public League (CPL), being showcased. Ten courts were actively playing games simultaneously with running clocks timed in 20-minute halves, whistles blowing from referees in every direction, and basketballs being hoisted from every corner of every court on display. 

Coaches, media, and fans had one row of floor seats at multiple courts or balcony viewing areas if desired, to go with three rows of bleachers at other premier side-courts that were separate and split off by a curtain in between. It was a sight for sore eyes to see – if you’re a basketball enthusiast – but it left you perplexed, at times, to make a decision in choosing what court to watch from an array of talented teams and elite players in action all at once.

“These events are great and very helpful to me in evaluating the talent (going from court to court) that we have in the state of Illinois,” noted DePaul University head basketball coach, Tony Stubblefield. “Plus, we have great coaches from high school and AAU programs that deserve to be recognized. This event could be held in any location (downstate, suburbs, Chicago) and coaches will make it a point to come to see the best players compete.”

Some early Saturday morning draw results saw CPL’s own Hyde Park lose to defending Class 2A Illinois state champion DePaul Prep and Curie edged by Class 3A Illinois state finalist Downers Grove North. In other games, Kenwood was victorious over Homewood-Flossmoor, while Simeon won over Bradley-Bourbonnais and Bowen triumphed over Wheeling.

Tim Flowers, who is currently debuting this summer as Simeon’s new basketball coach, competed the past two weekends in showcase events in Romeoville and Riverside Brookfield. He takes over for Hall of Fame coach Rob Smith, who retired this past season with over 500 career wins. The experience has been eye-opening for Flowers and has given him an opportunity to experience this unique showcase format from a new perspective as a first-time head coach.

“Coach Smith has prepared me for this time and it’s been fantastic so far in dealing with the team this summer,” said Flowers. “These showcases are so important for our young men to be seen by college coaches and have the opportunity to further their education.” 

Hyde Park head coach Jerrel Oliver has used the showcases as measuring sticks for his team’s improvement and success as his Thunderbirds prepare for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

“You get the chance in these events to play good teams and for us, a chance to play a state champion (DePaul Prep) is a great opportunity for our players to see what it takes to be successful,” said Oliver. “And, you can also showcase your own team’s abilities (in front of college recruiters).” 

Flowers was interviewed after his Wolverines win and asked if a “live” shootout format would be a hit if it were ever brought to the Chicagoland area. He beamed with excitement in thinking about that possibility.

“There would be a lot of fanfare in the city from teams and the fans who love basketball in Chicago. It would also give the CPL equal parity to showcase some of our other teams and players that may not normally have these types of opportunities,” concluded Flowers.

How the CPL teams fared:

Bowen: 1-3; Rae’Qwon Rodgers had a nice weekend, scoring at least 23 points in both of his team’s games on Sunday. His 26 points led the team in a game against Stagg and he and Ahmad Margera scored 23 points each in a win over Wheelng.

Curie: 2-2; The Condors defeated both Romeoville and Loyola, but fell to Downers North and Bloom. Mike Oliver Jr. earned praise from multiple outlets for hs play during the weekend.

Hyde Park: 0-4; The Thunderbirds had a rough weekend, losing all of their games. Hyde Park standout Jurrell Baldwin showcased why he was one of the top players in the city though.

Kenwood: 4-0; The Broncos had an impressive weekend, highlighted by wins over Homewood-Flossmoor and Brother Rice. A number of players stood out for the Broncos, including Chris Riddle, Aleks Alston, Noah Mister, Jaden Smith and incoming freshman Devin Cleveland, who scored more than 30 points in the win over Rice.

Lane: 2-2; The Champions went .500, including a one-point loss to fellow CPL squad Lindblom. Shaheed Solebo continued his impressive summer with a nice weekend, earning high praise from multiple outlets.

Lindblom: 3-1; Lindblom had an impressive weekend with wns over Lane, St. Patrick and Oak Forest. Kolby Capers, Quinton McCoy and Je’Shawn Stevenson had nice weekends. 

Michelle Clark: 0-4; Clark used the weekend as a learning opportunity against some of the top teams in the area.

Perspectives Leadership: 3-1; Perspectives continues its nice play with double-digit wins over Lockport, St. Charles North and Ridgewood. Dillon Fountain and Kenric Mosby both had multiple games of double-digit scoring and Fountain had multiple games of 7+ steals.

Perspectives MSA: 1-3; MSA had a couple of rough finishes, with two of their losses coming by one and eight points. Courtney Scott had at least three games in double-digit scoring. 

Phillips: 1-3; The Wildcats fell to state champion DePaul Prep by three points, while holding off Notre Dame by a point. St. Rita transfer Amari Edwards scored in double digits in all four games, including three games of 20+ points.

Simeon: 4-0; Rashad McKInnie, Lorenzo Shields and Andre TYler all had nice performances for the Wolverines, who are looking to reload after losing the majority of ther contributors to graduation.

Young: 2-2; The Dolphins’ ultra-talented sophomore class stood out this weekend, with Marquis Clark and Rykan Woo having nice weekends. Antonio Munoz also stood out.

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