When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.
The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.
The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.
This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.
We wrap up the countdown today with No. 1 Simeon.
1. SIMEON: 277-48
Decade’s biggest storyline: Simply put, Simeon basketball is an absolutely dominating figure in the sport. And because of its decade of dominance, coach Robert Smith’s program emerged as a state basketball empire.
The exclamation point came early in the decade. With a much-heralded team and roster, Simeon made its single biggest statement with a fourth straight state championship in 2012-13. Simeon became just the second program in history to win four consecutive state titles.
Simeon’s loaded roster, which included the senior duo of future pros Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn, finished 30-3. The Wolverines beat a talented Proviso East team that was led by two future NBA players of its own, Sterling Brown and Jevon Carter, in the state semifinals. Then Simeon took care of Jalen Brunson and Stevenson, 58-40, in the state championship.
The 2012-13 team was one for the ages. That was proven early on that season when dozens of college coaches filled Simeon’s open gym on the first day of the fall open recruiting period. But who could blame that bevy of coaches when the Simeon roster included 12 future Division I players, including three players who would go on to play in the NBA: Parker, Nunn and Zach Norvell.
But also on the floor that night were future Division I players Jaylon Tate, Donte Ingram, DJ Williams, Ben Coupet, Russell Woods, Kendall Pollard, Josh Thomas, Quron Davis and Ed Morrow.
Underrated highlight: Yes, there were the state championships during the decade. But what’s forgotten at a program like Simeon, where seven state championships have been won, are the other great seasons that resulted in state trophies, impressive win totals and success that other programs dream of experiencing.
Maybe the 2015-16 and 2016-17 teams didn’t win state championships, but those two teams finished third and second in the state, respectively, while winning a combined 59 games in two years.
Player of the Decade: Jabari Parker (2013).
All-Decade Team: Jabari Parker (2013), Kendrick Nunn (2013), Evan Gilyard (2017), Zach Norvell (2016) and Talen Horton-Tucker (2018).
Other decade highlights:
- The fact that four of the five players on the Simeon All-Decade Team played in the NBA is a significant decade highlight. Players like Parker, Nunn, Norvell and Horton-Tucker, all of who reached the NBA following their Simeon and college careers, have been the pillars upon which coach Robert Smith built this past decade’s success.
- The decade included a handful of Chicago Public League championships as the Wolverines won more city titles in the decade than any other program. Simeon captured five city championships in the last nine years.
- The Pontiac Holiday Tournament has been recognized as the premier holiday tournament in Illinois, and it’s Simeon that has made Pontiac its second home. The Wolverines have won six tournament titles since 2010.
- There isn’t a program in the state that’s enjoyed more postseason success than Simeon. During the 2010s, Simeon won a combined five state trophies, including three state titles, 10 regional championships and eight sectional titles.
- With the national schedule Simeon played, there were opportunities for high-profile out-of-state wins. The biggest was a 81-68 victory over perennial power Oak Hill Academy in 2013. Then in 2015, Simeon played Bishop Gorman out of Las Vegas, featuring McDonald’s All-Americans Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter and junior star and future NBA player Zach Collins, and beat the Nevada state power by 30 points.
- While playing in the state’s toughest conference, Simeon won six Red-South and Red-South/Central titles, including a run in the early part of the decade where the Wolverines won 28 straight conference games and 46 of 48.