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Brother Rice's Alex Majewski (left) puts a shot up against Tinley Park's Orlando Lewis during their basketball game in Chicago Tuesday, December 11, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

No. 1

This Brother Rice team isn’t as good as the one led by Bobby Frasor that won 25 games and reached Peoria in 2005. But it’s the best team at the corner of South Pulaski and 99th since then.

After averaging 23 wins a year from 1994 to 2005, the Crusaders haven’t won 20-plus games since. Coach Pat Richardson, however, has a blend of experience (four returning starters from last year’s 17-win team), size (6-7 Alex Majewski, 6-6 Cal Kennedy and 6-5 Matt Page), solid point guard play (Jim Barista) and what has always been a strength of this program — perimeter shooting.

After capturing the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament late last month and picking up a couple of early January wins, Brother Rice is off to a 13-2 start. The 20-win mark is within reach, even though Richardson calls this year’s schedule “the most difficult schedule we’ve played in my 24 years as coach.”

No. 2

Josh Meier has played in the shadows of more heralded and talented prospects in the Class of 2014, but the Richards junior is putting together a monster season that is putting him on the map.

Meier’s instinctive ability to make things happen on both ends of the court, with or without the ball, has led to season averages of 17 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocks a game while shooting 61 percent from the field.

“He has a big body, a high motor and is playing with a ton of confidence,” says Richards coach John Chappetto of the 6-6 Meier. “The combination of getting stronger and all the hard work he’s put in is all coming together.”

No. 3

There has never been a No. 1-ranked team in Illinois at this point in January that so few fans around the city and state have seen play as Young. For the diehard high school hoops junkie, it’s like never taking an ultra-luxurious Aston Martin out of the garage to show off.

The Dolphins have played eight games outside Illinois — three in Florida, four in South Carolina and one in West Virginia. There was a season-opening showing against DeMatha Catholic at the UIC Pavilion, but the three in-state games against Westinghouse, Power House and Douglass weren’t exactly circle-the-calendar dates.

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