From Mark Aguirre to Julian Wright, at last count, a total of 238 Illinois products have competed in professional basketball in this country.Have you ever heard of Jack Dwan, Gene Dyker, Dan Godfread, Leary Lentz, Gene Stump or Giff Roux?Maybe not. But you've heard of Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Cazzie Russell, Kevin Garnett, Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette and Juwan Howard.According to a survey by Basketball-Reference.com, there are 23 Illinois products currently playing in the NBA -- Tony Allen (Crane), Shannon Brown (Proviso East), Will Bynum (Crane), Brian Cardinal (Tolono Unity), Brian Cook (Lincoln), Eddy Curry (Thornwood), Melvin Ely (Thornton), Kevin Garnett (Farragut), Juwan Howard (Vocational), Andre Iguodala (Springfield Lanphier), Othyus Jeffers (Hubbard), Shaun Livingston (Peoria Central), Corey Maggette (Fenwick), JaVale McGee (Hales Franciscan), Nazr Mohammed (Kenwood), Jannero Pargo (Robeson), Anthony Parker (Naperville Central), Quentin Richardson (Whitney Young), Derrick Rose (Simeon), Iman Shumpert (Oak Park), Bobby Simmons (Simeon), Dwyane Wade (Richards) and Julian Wright (Homewood-Flossmoor).But Illinois products helped to build the foundation of the NBA in the 1940s and 1950s. Remember George Mikan, Sweetwater Clifton, Joe Graboski, Harry Gallatin, Dike Eddleman, Andy Phillip, Wally Osterkorn and Irv Bemoras?How about an All-Star team from the 1940s and 1950s? Sweetwater Clifton (Du Sable), George Mikan (Quigley), Andy Phillip (Granite City), Harry Gallatin (Roxana), Johnny Kerr (Tilden).How about the 1960s? Cazzie Russell (Carver), George Wilson (Marshall), Tom Hawkins (Parker), Jerry Sloan (McLeansboro), Don Nelson (Rock Island).Or Don Ohl (Edwardsville), Dave Robisch (Springfield), Donnie Freeman (Madison), Flynn Robinson (Elgin) and Jim Brewer (Proviso East)?How about the 1970s? Quinn Buckner (Thornridge), Maurice Cheeks (Du Sable), Doug Collins (Benton), Jack Sikma (St. Anne) andRickey Green (Hirsch). Or Sonny Parker (Farragut), Dan Issel (Batavia), Steve Kuberski (Moline), Kevin Porter (Du Sable) and Corky Calhoun (Waukegan).The 1980s? Mark Aguirre (Westinghouse), Terry Cummings (Carver), Hersey Hawkins (Westinghouse), Isiah Thomas (St. Joseph) andGlenn "Doc" Rivers (Proviso East).Or Eddie Johnson (Westinghouse), Rod Higgins (Thornton), Craig Hodges (Rich East), Ken Norman (Crane) and Kevin Gamble (Springfield Lanphier).The 1990s? Nick Anderson (Simeon), Juwan Howard (Vocational), Kevin Garnett (Farragut), Tim Hardaway (Carver) and Antoine Walker (Mount Carmel).Or LaPhonso Ellis (East St. Louis Lincoln), Michael Finley (Proviso East), Kendall Gill (Rich Central), Anthony Parker (Naperville Central) and Troy Hudson (Carbondale).The past decade? Derrick Rose (Simeon), Shannon Brown (Proviso East), Dwyane Wade (Richards), Andre Iguodala (Springfield Lanphier) andCorey Maggette (Fenwick).Or Quentin Richardson (Whitney Young), Bobby Simmons (Simeon), Brian Cook (Lincoln), Brian Cardinal (Tolono Unity) and Will Bynum (Crane).Who will be the next Illinois products to play in the NBA? Likely Kentucky's Anthony Davis (Perspectives), Ohio's D.J. Cooper (Seton), Illinois' Meyers Leonard (Robinson) and Simeon's Jabari Parker.Of course, this survey doesn't take into account the dozens of former Illinois high school basketball stars who didn't earn steady employment in the NBA and opted to play overseas -- in Europe, Israel, South America, Japan and Australia. Many of them, including Lloyd Batts (Thornton, Cincinnati), James Jackson (Crane, Minnesota), Audie Matthews (Bloom, Illinois), Melvin McCants (Mount Carmel, Purdue), Deon Thomas (Simeon, Illinois), Rashard Griffith (King, Wisconsin), Tom Kleinschmidt (Gordon Tech, DePaul), Kiwane Garris (Westinghouse, Illinois), Mark Miller (Westinghouse, Illinois-Chicago) and Cedrick Banks (Westinghouse, Illinois-Chicago), have enjoyed successful and profitable careers.You could make an outstanding all-star team out of that group, couldn't you?
SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects.
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Not long after the White Sox brought Michael Saunders into the organization, another outfielder with major league experience is joining Triple-A Charlotte.
Alex Presley — a 32-year-old who played 71 games last season for the Detroit Tigers and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers — is the latest addition to the Knights’ outfield. He’s a guy who could potentially be used to help the White Sox outfield, which has seen two Opening Day players go on the disabled list for extended periods of time.
Avisail Garcia is in his fifth week on the DL while dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Nicky Delmonico is expected to miss the next four to six weeks while recovering from a broken bone in his hand. The White Sox might feel that the collection of Adam Engel, Trayce Thompson, Leury Garcia and Daniel Palka might be enough to get them through those injuries. But the results have not been great from that group. Engel and Thompson are both hitting under .200, while Leury Garcia and Palka have on-base percentages just above .300.
Presley, like Saunders, could be an option for a midseason promotion should he hit well in the minors. He hit .314 with a .354 on-base percentage in those 71 games with the Tigers last season. This year, he was playing in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, where he hit .275 with a .347 on-base percentage in 26 games.
It’s possible we won’t see either veteran outfielder on the South Side this season (though having Presley here for Elvis Night would be pretty excellent), but it gives the White Sox options should the lack of production from their current crop of outfielders and the injuries to Avisail Garcia and Delmonico keep them out longer.
It’s also quite possible that none of the names mentioned to this point will have a role to play in this team’s long-term future, not an outlandish thought considering Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe are all still developing in the minor leagues.