In 2008 the Plainfield Enterprise hosted its first preps All-Star Basketball game for area high school seniors. That game featured only Plainfield schools, the coverage area of The Enterprise.
“Prior to 2009, there were three of the four Plainfield high schools,” said Sports Editor Mark Gregory.
When The Enterprise became part of Voyager Media Publications, the coverage area eventually expanded to 15 communities in four counties. Between The Enterprise, The Sentinel and The Bugle newspapers, the game features some of the best senior athletes from Joliet Central, Joliet West, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Westmont, Niles West, Maine East, Notre Dame, Plainfield East, Plainfield North, Plainfield Central, Plainfield South, Minooka, Joliet Catholic Academy, Benet Academy, Maine South, Lockport, Lisle and Northridge Prep.
“After the purchase by Voyager Media we went more north, getting Bolingbrook and Romeoville players involved…then we slowly added Downers Grove high schools then the Niles area schools.”
Voyager Media eventually had to move the event to University of St. Francis in Joliet to accommodate the growing crowd.
“The move to USF really made for a more legit All-Star game,” said Gregory.
“Holding it in a college setting, in a larger venue than a high school gym, really makes the All-Star games something special,” said Pat Ryan, advertising director.
With the move to USF community continued to grow as well, 2016 drew a crowd size of around 500.
“The community has been great,” said Gregory. “Especially in Joliet, where basketball is king.”
“The players respective communities really come out to support their seniors,” said Ryan. “In the past, the north suburban players (Niles West, Maine East, Notre Dame, Maine South, and Northridge Prep) also brought their fans.”
Of course the support of players and school coaches are the main reason for the success of this annual event.
“Every year we see underclassmen in the stands, waiting for their turn; as well as graduated seniors returning to support old teammates,” said Gregory.
“It is a nice chance for a player to get one more game in their high school uniform, “ he said. “Not all our kids get invited to the more well-known all-star games (McDonalds, Adidas, Border Wars) … so this is big for them.”
While Voyager Media invites all the top area seniors to participate, IHSA rules prevent a senior from playing in more than two all-star games. So while Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook Class of 2012 and now a top WNBA player) was selected she could not play because of the two-game rule.
“However, our all-star game also gives insight in to future stars,” said Gregory. “Lockport’s Richaun Holmes (Class of 2011 and an all-star pick) was drafted by the NBA in 2015.”
Holmes was a role player at Lockport, said Gregory. He really improved in college as was subsequently drafted.
“We also have several playing college level basketball, one who is playing overseas, and one in the NBA Developmental League,” said Gregory.
“These successes are why we’re asking ‘Who’s Next?,’” said Ryan.