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jahlil Okafor will look to lead Young to a state title his senior season. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media

You don’t expect Simeon, the four-time defending state champs, to just go away, do you?

The Wolverines won’t be favored to win the 2014 state championship when the season tips off in November, but they’re stockpiled with young, impressive talent. With 6-7 sophomore D.J. Williams, 6-6 sophomore Edward Morrow and 6-3 freshman guard Zach Norvell, Simeon will remain in the hunt.

But there will be plenty of challengers vying to dethrone the state champs.

With the return of 6-11 Jahlil Okafor, the Sun-Times Player of the Year and the top-ranked junior in the country, Young will likely be everyone’s preseason No. 1 team.

“Our guys just have to worry about getting better and meeting challenges,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “We played with a target on our back for much of this year. The objective, though, is to be No. 1 at the end of the year.”

Stevenson returns the nucleus of its Class 4A state runner-up team, including star sophomore point guard Jalen Brunson.

If promising freshman point guard Devin Gage matures quickly, coach Mike Oliver could have the best team he’s ever had at Curie. Cliff Alexander, a 6-9 behemoth and top five player nationally in the junior class, will be a dominating force.

Morgan Park loses a bundle of talent from its Class 3A state championship team. However, coach Nick Irvin returns an impressive group, led by 6-7 junior Josh Cunningham.

The dream season Marian Catholic put together, which included a school-record 29 wins and the program’s first sectional championship, may have just been the prelude. Coach Mike Taylor will have nearly everyone back, including dynamic all-state point guard Tyler Ulis.

Orr finished fourth in the state in 3A and welcomes back its top three scorers and Division I recruits, 6-8 Marlon Jones, 6-6 Tyquone Greer and Louis Adams, Jr.

With the return of JaVairius Amos-Mays, JayQuan McCloud and Kurt Hall, North Chicago could have its best team ever, and will be a 3A state title contender.

Finally, will next year be the year St. Rita breaks through? Vic Law, a top 100 player nationally in the junior class, and Charles Matthews, a top 20 talent in the Class of 2015, return, along with Division I prospects Dominique Matthews and 6-8 Myles Carter.

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