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Paul White takes the ball down for Young, defended by Reginald Norris of Simeon. Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times
Simeon coach Robert Smith and Young coach Tyrone Slaughter have plenty of influence in Chicago all on their own. But once those two pair up with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, there is enough high-level juice for a truly impressive event to happen.
Smith, Slaughter and Emanuel have teamed up for the Chicago Elite Classic, a basketball shootout Dec. 1 at UIC. Aside from a lower profile event at Loyola two seasons ago, it is the first time they city has hosted a national shootout of this magnitude since Hoops In The Loop back in the mid-90's.
“About two months ago the coaches came to me and asked if they had my support,” Emanuel said. “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.”
Simeon senior Jabari Parker and Young junior Jahlil Okafor are two of the best players in the nation and biggest draws for basketball fans in the area. Simeon will face Milton, Ga. and Young will play DeMatha, Md.
Proviso East, St. Joseph, De La Salle and Phillips will also play in the event. The Pirates will face Lone Peak, Utah—the No. 6 team in the nation according to MaxPreps.
Slaughter and Smith have been dreaming about organizing the event for a number of years, but they actually started planning it last season when both of their teams were participating in a similar event in West Virginia.
“What we talked about in West Virginia last year is coming true,” Slaughter said. “Our hope is that Chicago will come out and witness something spectacular.”
Smith says nearly 30 of the top 100 seniors in the country will play in the shootout.
“We’ve had an enormous amount of college coaches calling just hoping they can get in,” Slaughter said. “Someone was joking about the amount of private planes that will be heading into the airport.”
Okafor and Parker are both happy to have a chance to play a high-level national team—for once without having to board a plane.
“It’s always great to be a part of something this big,” Okafor said. “And I’m looking forward to being able to finally bring some of the top teams in the country to Chicago.”
Smith and Slaughter are hopeful the event will become an annual tradition for local hoops fans.
“Our hope is this will last for a long, long time,” Slaughter said. “We already have three major out-of-state teams interested in coming for 2013.”