Cityscape: Chicago

Charles Matthews

It seems Chicago always finds itself mired in the shadows of coastal metropolises New York and Los Angeles. The primary media centers exist in those cities, and most of the country's population resides on the margins.

But in terms of true, superstar talent, Chicago is riding a high. Always noted for its grassroots culture — most emphatically brought to the big screen in 1990s documentary Hoop Dreams, some of basketball's greats have called the Windy City home: George Mikan, Isiah Thomas, and more recently Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and emerging mega-talent Anthony Davis.

The most recent classes truly have overflowed. Duke freshman Jabari Parker is amid an All-American quality season this year, and next year the Blue Devils will bring in another Chicago native — Jahlil Okafor, who's No. 1 in his class.

But as well as Duke has done recruiting the city, they can't claim all the top-shelf recruits. No. 5 overall senior Cliff Alexander recently won the Naismith player of the year award and will take his athletic, aggressive exploits to Kansas.

While as yet there may be no superstar in the junior class, Charles Matthews is a stud wing and already has committed to Kentucky. No city can churn out top-five prospects ever year, but the prep All-American beat continues in the Upper Midwest. Chicago also arguably claims the best junior point guard, Jalen Brunson. He's piecing together a very impressive career in the city's northern suburbs.

Other clear junior high-majors include D.J. Williams (Illinois commitment), Glynn Watson, Aaron Jordan (another Illini pledge), Hyron Edwards (East Chicago, Ind.), Brandon Hutton (Iowa commit), Edward Morrow and Myles Carter.

Stepping into the sophomore ranks, the sophomore class — which is considered very strong nationally — doesn't yet stand out for its Chicago hoops denizens. Zachary Norvell looms as a top-35 prospect, however, and course there's a long time to go before those players reach full maturity.

While even some loaded cities have struggled to produce big men, Chicago's recent claim to fame clearly has been the frontcourt. From the 2011-14 classes, the city produced four top-five players — including two No. 1s, Davis and Okafor — 6-8 or taller. The trend appears to be reverting to the mean in 2015, however, if Matthews and Brunson indeed become the city's best junior prospects.

However the particulars align, elite players will continue to surface in the city's neighborhoods and elite college programs will be marching in tandem alongside them.

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