Three-mendous futures ahead: The 1999-2000 Tribune All-State boys basketball first team

Richards' Dwyane Wade drives to the hoop during a basketball game against Brother Rice (Photo for the Tribune by Warren Skalski)

Take a good look at the front line for the 2000 Tribune All-State Basketball Team, because within three years Darius Miles, Eddy Curry and Andre Brown all could be playing in the NBA.

Miles is a wondrously gifted, 6-foot-8-inch athlete who excelled at all five positions in leading East St. Louis to third place in the Class AA state tournament this season and an Elite Eight berth last year. There's a good chance Miles will jump straight from high school to the pros if he believes he will be selected in the NBA draft lottery, bypassing a scholarship to St. John's.

Next year, it could be Curry's turn. At 6-10, 275 pounds, the Thornwood center already has the physique to withstand pro basketball's rigors. A number of pro and college scouts attending his games have come away impressed with his inside power moves and his feathery outside shooting touch.

By 2002, Brown will have spent two years refining his game at DePaul and might be ready for his breakout move. Blue Demons coach Pat Kennedy has speculated among his coaching staff that Brown could be his first $100 million player.

Of course, this scenario hinges upon the reality that all three high school heroes live up to their enormous potential.

Even so, it's rare for so many All-Staters to emerge as legitimate pro prospects in the same season. This threesome might surpass the 1998 trio of Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette and Michael Wright. Maggette is a rookie with the Orlando Magic, while Richardson and Wright could enter the NBA draft sometime in the next two years.

Rounding out the 2000 All-State team are a pair of explosive guards, 6-3 Cedrick Banks of Class AA runner-up Westinghouse and 6-3 Dwyane Wade of Richards. Banks needs to improve his academic standing to qualify for a Division I scholarship; Wade is headed to Marquette.

"Cedrick Banks epitomizes what a high school coach wants in a ballplayer," said Westinghouse coach Chris Head. "He brings such tremendous enthusiasm and energy to the way he approaches every game. There isn't another player as competitive as Cedrick in the state."

Banks averaged 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals per game, and it wasn't uncommon for this quick-draw artist to score 10 points in a 2-minute span.

Wade made the biggest improvement among the first-team All-Staters.

"I credit much of that to his AAU basketball experience last summer," said Richards coach Jack Fitzgerald. Wade played on a team with Miles and New Trier's Matt Lottich, yet, Fitzgerald said, "Dwyane emerged as the team's best player by the end of the summer.

"I've never had a player who excelled at scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots like he did. Dwyane was a tenacious offensive rebounder and a great anticipator on defense. He played post defense against [Thornridge's 6-9] James Moore and [Hillcrest's 6-10] Reo Logan, yet he had the quickness to stick to a standout guard such as [Brother Rice's] Mark Telander."

Nobody could stop Curry in the post. Richards used all five players to defend him, and the Thornwood junior still came away with 30 points and 16 rebounds.

"He's a bionic man out there, and it's not humanly possible to shut him down with just one or even two guys," said Thornton coach Rocky Hill, who watched Curry overpower his 7-1 center Chris Alexander and 6-7 power forward Jonathan Woods. "What's scary is, he is only a junior and could wind up being a bigger, stronger 7-footer by the time he graduates.

"If Eddy Curry played a whole game with the Bulls today, he would probably score in double figures. He consistently hits the 15- to 18-foot jumper and has range out to the three-point circle. Oh, my goodness, that's the stuff legends are made of. I'll be so glad when this legend finally moves on."

Hill pointed out that besides the requisite physical skills, Curry also has the aptitude to successfully make the jump from the preps to the pros.

"He comes from such a wonderful family, and his feet are firmly planted on the ground with that proper upbringing," Hill said. "[Lakers star] Kobe Bryant made the jump with help from his parents, and Eddy comes from the same kind of family. Underneath all that scowling and those menacing looks on the court, Eddy's just a sweetheart of a kid."

Miles said he has consulted Kevin Garnett and Michael Jordan about going straight to the NBA. Both told him to carefully assess how high he would be picked before making a decision. "If I'm one of the first 13 [lottery] picks, I would probably turn pro," Miles said.

Coach Gordie Kerkman of Class AA state champion West Aurora has no doubt about Miles' future after watching him nearly defeat his team in last Saturday's semifinals.