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Simeon's Nunn has plenty of offers, including two close to home

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Simeon's Nunn has plenty of offers, including two close to home

Simeon Career Academy's Kendrick Nunn, the consensus No. 2 2013 prospect in Illinois behind teammate and Gatorade National Player of the Year Jabari Parker, has seen his recruitment pick up serious steam since the NCAA season concluded.

The smooth lefty used his impressive range and ability to finish at the basket to help the Wolverines to their third straight Class 4A Illinois state championship, a 50-48 victory over Proviso East.

And while some of the top colleges in the country have shown interest in the 6-foot-2 shooting guard, his decision could come down to the two most interested schools closest to him: Illinois and Marquette.

Rivals.com ranks Nunn as the No. 22 prospect in the 2013 class, and the seventh best shooting guard. He originally commited to Billy Kennedy and Texas A&M following his sophomore year at Simeon, when the Wolverines went 30-2 and won their second straight Illinois state championship. However, Nunn would decommit from the Aggies just over a month later, saying over Twitter that he had rushed his decision.

Thanks to his successful junior season at Simeon and his impressive spring with Meanstreets AAU, Nunn now holds scholarship offers not only from Illinois andMarquette, but alsoUCLA, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State, Missouri and a host of others. He also has a scholarship offer from DePaul, where he is visiting today.According to Josh Paunil of National Recruiting Spotlight, who spoke with Nunn earlier this week, Kansas, Syracuse and North Carolina have also shown interest in the combination guard.

Former coach Bruce Weber and the Illini had offered Nunn prior to his Texas A&M commitment, and John Groce's hiring this March will only help Illinois further.

Groce, who left Ohio University after four years, has strong Chicago connections and could help lure Nunn, who visited just over a week after Groce was hired, to Champaign.

As is the case with many of the top recruits in the country, immediate playing time will be a factor with Nunn. And the Illini should have plenty of it in 2013.

Following point guard Jalen James' decommitment on June 1, the Illini now have four open scholarships for the 2013 class. Rayvonte Rice, who transferred from Creighton this off-season and will be eligible to play in 2013-'14, would be Nunn's only real competition to start at shooting guard.

Even still, Nunn would most likely be the Illini's top recruit of the class and would see playing time immediately following senior Brandon Paul's departure.

Four hours north, Buzz Williams and Marquette, who offered Nunn in the fall of 2011, were presumed to be out of the running after 2013 point guard Duane Wilson committed in late March.

But things changed in late May, when then-Illinois assistant coach Isaac Chew, who had been on the job just over a month, resigned from Groce's staff and accepted the same position at Marquette under Williams. Like Groce, Chew is known for his connections throughout the midwest, including Chicago.

Suddenly Chew, who presumably had been recruiting Nunn to Illinois, is now doing the same for Marquette.Nunn visited Marquette on Monday, andit appears the Golden Eagles are back on the shooting guard's radar thanks to Chew.

One factor that could sway Nunn's decision is Steve Taylor. Simeon's 6-foot-8 forward signed with Marquette last November and will begin his college career this fall. Williams recent uptick on recruiting Chicago, combined with the addition of Chew to the coaching staff could help sway Nunn.

Unlike Illinois, Marquette has a bit of a logjam with its 2013 class. Junior college freshman Jameel McKay, who will be eligible for the 2013-'14 season, gave a verbal commitment to Williams on June 2. Along with Wilson and Deonte Burton, Marquette now has filled all three open scholarships for the 2013 class.

A transfer possibility is always an option, or redshirt senior Chris Otule, who has missed two years with season-ending injuries, may not be granted a sixth year by the NCAA. While that will not be known until next spring, it's likely that Williams will find a way to make Nunn fit if he were to decide to attend Marquette.Nunn also told Paunil he is planning to visit the UCLA campus sometime over the summer, before he narrows his list of schools down to three or five. He also plans to make his decision in the fall before his senior season at Simeon.

Ben Howland's group went a disappointing 19-14 last season, but he still managed to pull in the country's most impressive recruiting class. All four 2012 signees are consensus top-50 players in the country, led by small forward Shabazz Muhmammad, listed by many recruiting outlets as the top player in the class.

Surprisingly, UCLA's loaded 2012 recruiting class does not feature a shooting guard. While Nunn would have to play his college career farther from home, the appeal of playing for a blueblood program like UCLA, combined with an ultra-talented roster, could prove too much for Illinois and Marquette.

Missouri and Memphis, two schools who play an up-tempo style offense Nunn is looking for, are still in play as well, and the Syracuses, Kentuckys and Kansases of the recruiting world still could come calling with scholarship offers.

But if Nunn can not resist the appeal of playing close to home, it could put Groce and Illinois in a hot recruiting battle with Williams and Groce's former assistant in Chew.

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

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USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.

Joao Meira spills the first news of the Fire's offseason

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USA TODAY

Joao Meira spills the first news of the Fire's offseason

The wait to find out which players have their options picked up or declined by the Fire might still be a couple weeks, but the first news of a player move in the Fire's offseason came via Twitter.

Defender Joao Meira announced he won't be returning to the club in 2018.

Meira signed with the Fire just before the start of the 2016 preseason after being out of contract in Europe. The Portuguese center back signed a one-year deal with a club option for the second year.

After he played 28 matches with 26 starts in 2016, the Fire picked up his option. He became even more of a fixture at center back in 2017, beating out Jonathan Campbell for the other starting spot alongside Johan Kappelhof. Meira played in 30 regular season matches and made 27 starts, finishing fourth on the team in minutes played (2,412).

That Meira won't be back isn't a major surprise for a few reasons. First, he was out of contract. He was one of two players, along with Bastian Schweinsteiger, on the Fire's roster that the team had no control over for 2018. On top of that, the 30-year-old had made it clear that he wanted to be closer to his home and family in Portugal.

Meira's departure leaves a gap at the center back position for the Fire. Kappelhof, who enters the third year of a three-year guaranteed deal in 2018, and Campbell, who will likely have his club option picked up, enter as the only healthy center backs in 2018. Christian Dean was added in August via trade, but is coming off a broken foot, an injury that has plagued him before. His status for the start of the 2018 season is unclear.

Grant Lillard, a potential homegrown signing and a senior at Indiana, could compete for time at center back next season. He is one of the top rated players in the country for the Hoosiers, which are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. While Lillard could step in from a numbers perspective and would add size to the Fire's back line (Lillard is 6-foot-4), he wouldn't be able to replace Meira's ability on the ball. Meira wasn't as effective of a defender as Kappelhof, but was arguably the best passer among the Fire's center backs and helped alleviate pressure at times.

This also opens up an international spot on the Fire's roster. The Fire went over the alloted total last season, but were able to put John Goossens and Jorge Bava on the disabled list to clear room. Meira's exit gives a bit more flexibility in that department.