Stevenson's boys basketball team, which has earned medals at the state finals in each of the last two seasons, will leave the state for the first time to play in two prestigious tournaments in January, 2015.
The Patriots will travel to Wheeling, West Virginia to participate in the Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling Jesuit University Jan. 2-3, then will fly to Springfield, Mass., for the Hoophall Classic at the National Basketball Hall of Fame on Jan. 17. Stevenson will face regional powerhouses in both tournaments.
In West Virginia, SHS will take on Chaminade College Prep from St. Louis on Friday, Jan. 2, and Gonzaga College High School from Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Jan. 3.
The tournament roster also includes two other strong programs from Illinois, defending state champion Whitney Young and Simeon, plus LaLumiere School in LaPorte, Ind.
In Massachusetts, head coach Pat Ambrose's Stevenson squad will face Findlay College Prep from Henderson, Nev., on Saturday, Jan. 17.
"Playing in these prestigious tournaments gives us a chance to experience a lot of great things -- top flight competition, tough road venues, cross county travel and possible sightseeing to enhance our student-athlete time on the road," Ambrose said.
Stevenson's opponents all feature players who are considered among the top prospects in the country:
• Chaminade is led by 6-foot-8 junior Jayson Tatum, who played for the gold medal-winning United States team at the FIBA U17 World Championship in August. The Red Devils finished 24-3 last season. 247sports.com lists Tatum as the top national prospect in the Class of 2016.
• Gonzaga features 6-2 senior guard Bryant Crawford, who was invited to the Team USA U17 training camp with Tatum.
• Findlay College Prep has amassed a 223-14 record in the past seven seasons, producing nine McDonald's All-Americans and seven current NBA players, including Anthony Bennett, the overall No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft. The Pilots, who were 31-5 last year, feature 6-4 senior Allonzo Trier, a transfer who has committed to play for the University of Arizona, 6-8 senior Horace Spencer and 6-1 junior guard Derryk Thornton Jr.
Stevenson finished third in the 2014 Class 4A state finals, one year after placing second. The Patriots were 32-2 last season, the most wins in school history.
Stevenson's roster features 6-2 senior guard Jalen Brunson, already the school's all-time leading scorer, and 6-4 classmate Connor Cashaw. Brunson is widely considered to be one of the top point guard prospects in the country, and has received strong interest from Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Temple and Villanova, among others.
Cashaw also has been busy talking with recruiters. He has heard from a slew of schools, including Boston College, Lehigh and Rice. A thirds Patriot senior, Matt Johnson, also has earned a look from some Division 1 schools, including Chicago State.
Patriot fans will have the opportunity to bid on travel packages for the tournament trips during the annual Stevenson Online Auction Oct. 20-27. SHS followers also will be able to enter a raffle for reserved seating and a parking spot for home games in the Sports Center. Details for the online auction and raffle will be announced this fall.