The city of Chicago has witnessed one of its own claim the title of Illinois Mr. Basketball in four of the last six seasons. Jabari Parker took home the prize in consecutive years in 2012 and 2013. Jahlil Okafor won the honor in 2014 and Morgan Park’s own Charlie Moore was the latest in 2016 to win the award.
In 2018, a number of players hailing from outside the Chicago city limits are fighting for the coveted Mr. Basketball distinction. Zion Griffin (Hinsdale South) from the Chicago suburb of Darien is having another tremendous season. Tim Finke (Champaign Central), Kendle Moore (Danville), Francis Okoro (Normal West) and E.J. Liddell (Belleville West) are all strong candidates from outside the city as well.
Nevertheless, when traversing the Chicago streets with all its storied basketball history, three names have emerged as the early favorites to win the illustrious Mr. Basketball trophy.
1. Ayo Dosunmu 6-4 | Combo Guard | Morgan Park
Dosunmu entered the season as the preeminent favorite to claim the Mr. Basketball title. After 15 games in just over one month of action, the senior combo guard is averaging a staggering 28 points per game with season-highs of 51 points on Dec 14 against Kenwood (IL) and 60 points on Dec. 22 against Wilson (D.C.).
As advertised, Dosunmu is a prolific scorer that is tough to stop when driving hard to the basket. The Morgan Park senior is especially talented when using his 6-4 frame to beat defenders to spots in order to finish at the rim.
First-year head coach Brad Underwood is gaining an absolute workhorse at the University of Illinois next season. The future Illini guard plays with exceptional energy and routinely turns defensive rebounds into layups or dunks on the other end of the floor.
Dosunmu continues to lead the race for Illinois Mr. Basketball. Check out the highlights of his 51-point performance earlier this season.
2. Talen Horton-Tucker 6-5 | Small Forward | Simeon
Not so long ago, Illinois fans dreamed of scoring perhaps their most lethal offensive combo since Dee Brown and Deron Williams. Illinois assistant coach Ron “Chin” Coleman heavily recruited both Dosunmu and Simeon senior Talen Horton-Tucker.
The first piece of the puzzle was in place after Dosunmu picked Illinois on Oct. 19. Three days later, Horton-Tucker announced that Illinois among Iowa State and Xavier were his final three choices. However the recruiting coup would not be realized as the 6-5 forward picked Iowa State on Oct. 26.
Horton-Tucker is on another level this season. Probably the most accurate word that describes Horton-Tucker’s game is smooth. The future Cyclone not only has the size and versatility that translates well for forwards in the college game, but he also possesses the characteristics of a playmaking guard who knows how to create his own shots.
Simeon is having another season in which the team is receiving national attention. The Wolverines checked in at No. 17 in the latest USA Today Super 25 Rankings and Horton-Tucker is one of the primary reasons for their success. The talented forward is averaging 22.4 points per game while also stuffing the statsheet with four double-doubles and one triple-double in 12 games.
Check out the highlights from Horton-Tuckers 27-point performance against Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC) at the City of Palms Classic.
3. Javon Freeman 6-4 | Shooting Guard | Whitney Young
It’s time to start taking Javon Freeman seriously as a candidate for Illinois Mr. Basketball. The Whitney Young senior has three games this season with 30 or more points with his season-high being 35 points on Nov. 26 against Fenwick (IL).
Freeman is also racking up the accolades this year. The Whitney Young senior earned First-Team honors at the Rockford Tip-Off Classic and the Proviso West Holiday Tournament to go along with MVP honors at the Dallas National Hoopfest.
Opponents find it difficult to defend against the Whitney Young senior because he finds his way into the lane with crippling consistency. Freeman also possesses a devastatingly effective spin move which he utilizes when attacking the basket. When in scoring position, Freeman uses his 6-4 frame and exceptional wingspan to finish contested layups with ease.
Valparaiso is getting a major steal in Javon Freeman. When watching Freeman, he feels as if he is the type of player that fans are going to be watching on national television in the Big Ten or Big 12. Head coach Matt Lottich will be extremely pleased to welcome Freeman onto campus next season.