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Simeon prospects attracting college coaches

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Simeon prospects attracting college coaches

While Derrick Rose was christening his renovated neighborhood Tuesday, the league MVP's alma mater, Simeon Career Academy, was bustling. School was already over for the day, but the parking lot was filled, as college basketball coaches and other observers packed the high school's auxiliary gym to watch an open gym.

Unlike the Wolverines' first open gym this fall, no limousines pulled up 81st Street and Vincennes Avenue, but the likes of DePaul's Oliver Purnell and Washington's Lorenzo Romar were on hand to evaluate the two-time defending state champion's prospects. And although Rose had prior obligations, another former Simeon star with an NBA resume stopped by, as alumni Bobby Simmons caught a glimpse of the young talent.

Expected to be a top-10 nationally-ranked team heading into the high school season, even the non-varsity players and reserves at Simeon can play and would have a chance to be impact players for the average high school basketball program. But the school that produced Rose, Simmons, the late Ben Wilson and other Chicago schoolboy stars isn't the average program.

It should be noted that incumbent starting point guard Jelani Neely, a 5-foot-11 senior, sat out as he continues to recover from offseason ACL surgery. Neely, a heady type with playmaking ability, projects as mid-major Division I prospect.

Also, while they likely won't see significant varsity minutes, two of Simeon's freshmen stood out. Brandon Hutton, a hard-nosed forward with slashing ability and defensive prowess, has skills that translate to him being a big contributor throughout his prep career, while Dennis "D.J." Williams, a lanky wing, has considerable upside and the tools to one day develop into a star.

That said, here are quick evaluations of five of the most impressive players from Tuesday's session.

Jabari Parker, 6-foot-8 junior: Regarded by some as the nation's top overall prospect, Parker showed why, as his all-around game looks poised to reach another level. Easygoing off the court, his intensity was noticeable as he played all-out throughout the session and quietly encouraged his teammates. As Romar, his father Sonny's former NBA teammate watched, he dominated with his play, showing more explosiveness athletically on powerful dunks in both transition and half-court, using finesse on drives through traffic, showcasing a polished post-up game, consistently hitting both shots from behind the three-point arc and stop-and-pop jumpers, rebounding the ball at a high level on both ends, setting up for his teammates for scoring opportunities and digging in defensively.

Steve Taylor, 6-foot-8 senior: It's evident the Marquette commit has continued to develop and get stronger, as his back-to-the-basket game, powerful finishes and rebounding all looked much improved. Additionally, his ball handling has become more fluid, complementing his already potent shooting range, which means he'll have a chance to play both forward positions at the next level, if he can stay in front of quicker wing players. The assertiveness and leadership Taylor showed were good signs for the state's lone top-100 recruit nationally, who also looked bouncier athletically.

Kendrick Nunn, 6-foot-2 junior: Nunn, who committed early to Texas A&M, demonstrated his big-time athleticism early in the session with a powerful thrown-down over one of his teammates on the fast break. More of a combo guard than a pure point, the top-50 junior is an explosive scorer with the ability to score from deep, hit shots off the bounce and capitalize on crafty drives. The lefty is also a solid decision-maker and willing passer, enabling him to play either backcourt position.

Jaylon Tate, 6-foot-2 junior: A transfer from Catholic power De La Salle, it's apparent that the top-100 national prospect is adjusting from a more rigid half-court system, as he plays very unselfishly, makes pinpoint passes and seems to understand the concept of ball movement and spacing, lost arts among many young players. His playmaking ability should benefit Simeon, as he'll have plenty of distribution options. Tate is also a strong on-ball defender, possesses good size for his position, finishes well in transition and can knock down pull-up jumpers.

Kendall Pollard, 6-foot-5 junior: Due to the star power of some of his teammates, Pollard flies under the radar a bit, but his defensive acumen, willingness to battle inside, overall hustle, finishing ability and improving perimeter skills bode well for his future. Already a mid-major prospect at the present, Pollard is in the process of transitioning from an undersized interior player into a versatile wing with excellent toughness. His eye-catching blocked shots in transition garnered the attention of the entire gym.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls trade up or down in the draft?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls trade up or down in the draft?

Mark Carman, Hub Arkush, Phil Rogers and Will Perdue join Kap on the SportsTalk Live Podcast.

The guys start by discussing Brandon Morrow's injury that he sustained while taking off his pants... what's the craziest cause for an injury the guys can remember?

Plus, should the Bulls move up or down in Thursday's NBA Draft? Does it make sense to take on a bad contract in a potential deal?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Chandler Hutchison's unusual basketball background makes him an intriguing target for the Bulls

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USA TODAY

Chandler Hutchison's unusual basketball background makes him an intriguing target for the Bulls

Over the past several weeks, the Bulls have been heavily rumored to be selecting Boise State small forward Chandler Hutchison with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although the 6-foot-7 Hutchison had a stellar four-year career with the Broncos, and was regarded as a top-100 national prospect coming out of high school, his background is relatively unknown compared to many of his first-round counterparts. Not many recruiting gurus watched Hutchison in-depth in high school. The same could be said about draft analysts watching Hutchison's career unfold at Boise State.

Part of the reason Hutchison has flown under the radar for so long, despite being a first-round talent, is his unique basketball upbringing. Many elite high school players opt to transfer to big-time basketball schools while playing in high-exposure shoe-company leagues during the spring and summer. Instead of the normal path, Hutchison chose to stick with the people that he trusted.

Playing for a small, independent grassroots program in high school known as Team Eastbay, Hutchison started showing special gifts as a sophomore in before blossoming into a top-100 national prospect towards the end of high school. Hutchison's trainer and coach with Team Eastbay, Perry Webster, saw that Chandler had the ability to be a big-time player.

"I walked into the gym and saw this 15-year-old kind of gangly kid. And he just moved different than anybody else. I thought he had a chance to be a pretty good player," Webster said of Hutchison.

As Hutchison developed more of a reputation in the Southern California basketball scene, becoming a starter at Mission Viejo High School his junior season, he started to draw more attention from local and national recruiting analysts — including former ESPN recruiting insider Joel Francisco, Scout.com's Josh Gershon and SoCal recruiting analyst Devin Ugland.

"You saw during his junior year that he was a legitimate Division I prospect. During the spring he started blossoming," Francisco said. "He had the ball skills and the prototypical length and things like that. And he was finishing plays. He had a good IQ for the game. It was a matter of strength and he had to fill out to become a more complete player."

By the end of summer going into his senior season, Hutchison had established himself as a potential Pac-12 recruit, as schools like Oregon and USC started to show heavy interest. But it was mid-major programs like Boise State, Saint Mary's and UC-Irvine who had long been involved in Hutchison's recruitment.

Knowing that Hutchison was a unique wing with a high IQ and passing skills, Webster, a former Division I player at Cal State Fullerton himself, advised that his star player take a close look at the programs that would put him in position to succeed right away.

"Every AAU program in Southern California was trying to get him for their team. Free ride this, free shoes. The kid stayed really loyal to me. I was very hard on him," Webster said. "I demanded a lot of him. I screamed at him, I yelled at him. And he looked me in the eye and took it. I realized, this kid is pretty special because he's not running away from what he is. He knows what his limitations are. That's not something he's afraid to address.

"Not everybody was sold on him. Joel [Francisco] was. Joel was one of the proponents of him. But being that he burst on the scene late, and that he didn't play for the big shoe companies, we kind of came to the decision that we wouldn't be so enamored by the Pac-12. He realized he had ability but he still had a long way to go." 

Hutchison eventually decided to sign his National Letter of Intent with Boise State before his senior season started as assistant coach Jeff Linder acted as his lead recruiter. Even though his collegiate future had been decided, Hutchison continued to evolve into a major prospect during senior year as he flourished at Mission Viejo.

Even with his strong senior season, skepticism remained about Hutchison since he hadn't played with and against many of the major names in Southern California. Ranked as the No. 83 overall prospect in ESPN's final Class of 2014 national recruiting rankings, Hutchison was viewed as the seventh best player in his own state. While Francisco pushed for Hutchison to be ranked in the top 50, he had to settle for him being a back-end top-100 talent.

"They're like, hey, he's going to Boise State, he's not on a major shoe company team. How good can he be? But if he can play, he can play. It doesn't matter if he's not on the adidas circuit, he's not in the EYBL," Francisco said.

Francisco wasn't the only major recruiting analyst to take notice of Hutchison's play. Rivals.com's Eric Bossi also labeled Hutchison as a potential breakout player at Boise State. Hutchison was even placed in the Rivals national recruiting rankings, ending up at No. 98 overall, after his senior season. Bossi was on vacation with his family during spring break and he happened to see Hutchison play during his senior season. But Hutchison's strong effort, along with some research, convinced Bossi that he was worthy of a top-100 ranking, even with only one serious viewing. 

"I decided to go watch some regional California high school playoff stuff. And it just so happened to be that Chandler's high school team was one of the teams I was seeing," Bossi said. "I knew he was on the team and committed to Boise State. But then when I watched him play I was like, 'Holy cow, what an incredible get for Boise State. Like, this dude's legit.' He had great size for a wing. He could handle the ball, he could really pass and I thought he could defend multiple positions at the next level when it was all said and done. I thought he was a versatile, well-skilled, well-rounded basketball player. So, based on that, I thought he was top-100. I wish I had seen him more."

Even as a former top-100 national prospect, it took some time for Hutchison to gain traction at Boise State as he didn't put up big numbers during his first two seasons. Although Hutchison played plenty of minutes and started a healthy amount of games, he often took a back seat to talented all-conference players like Anthony Drmic and James Webb III.

When those players eventually moved on from the Broncos, Hutchison was given his chance to shine, as his ascension into all-conference player and future first-round pick came with an intense work ethic that continually developed during workouts in college.

Hutchison also became a consistent three-point threat — something he had been lacking during his development — as he became a hot name in the 2018 NBA Draft despite his unorthodox basketball background.

"He's always been competitive. I think the big thing is reps. And it still will be as he continues to play in the league," Webster said. "He wasn't a bad shooter in high school, but I think the big adjustment for him getting to college, it's hard to put up good percentages in college. I think some of it is mental. But I think he's a good shooter and I think that he'll prove that." 

It's hard to predict if the Bulls will end up with Hutchison with the No. 22 overall pick on Thursday night — especially given all of the chaos that can occur on draft night. But if Hutchison does end up in Chicago, he won't be fazed by having to prove himself after already doing so at the high school and college level.