Joliet Catholic's Ty Isaac is in an enviable position that few high school athletes ever have the privilege to experience. As the top-rated running back in the nation in the class of 2013, he is being recruited by arguably the three most storied college football programs of all time.Notre Dame, Michigan and Southern California.That's like walking into an automobile dealership and trying to choose between a Ferrari, Bentley or Rolls-Royce.Isaac isn't in a hurry to make a decision."I have no timetable," he said. "I will wait until it feels right. It could be tomorrow or Feb. 2 when I get a gut feeling, when the light bulb goes on. I haven't narrowed my list. Sometimes circumstances change. I don't want to rule out anyone. It's still early. It's April. I have until February."When he visited Notre Dame, he was struck by "all the stuff, the great intangibles, campus, nothing off the charts positive or negative. You go into the football building and see all the Heismans, national championship trophies, pictures of past All-Americans, Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian. It's a good place, a little different from anywhere else because it's Notre Dame."At Michigan, he was overwhelmed by the size of the football stadium and "the type of people, good people, big tradition." He has been to Michigan Stadium three or four times. "It's as big as they say, bigger than anyplace else. When you get in there, you know why they call it the Big House," he said.USC wasn't what he expected. "I expected maybe more white collar than blue collar but I got the opposite. I got a lot of high-profile guys, Los Angeles, a lot of Heismans and national championship trophies and retired jerseys. I said: 'I wish you guys could retire my jersey. Who has my number on the team? Will they be here when I get here?' But my number, 32, already is retired at USC. O.J. Simpson wore it," he said.Isaac also has visited Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa and Auburn. He said he probably will choose one of the seven. But he won't make any promises."I took unofficial visits in March, when it worked out for my parents," he said. "Now my visits are out of the way. Nothing else is planned now. To be honest, I don't know if I will visit any more schools. Some have asked me to visit. But if I don't have any interest, I don't want to waste either side's time. If the schools I have visited, I'd be perfectly fine to go to either one of them."However, he is sure of one thing at the moment. "I'm not a fan of the recruiting process at all. When I started, like everybody, I was excited. After you get the first couple of offers, you know you will have an opportunity to play at the next level. But now it gets overwhelming. It feels like it never stops," he said.So while many prospects were making unofficial visits during their recent spring breaks, Isaac stayed home. At last count, he has 23 scholarship offers. He can expect more. But he doesn't plan to make any more visits. He has no dream school. Unless he is really interested in a school, he said, he'd rather be at home."I want to make an educated decision," he said. "If I decide now, it would be a good choice. I want to be sure it is absolutely right. I feel I asked the right questions and got the answers I wanted. Sometimes people just tell you want you want to hear. Maybe it works for some. But I want to hear the truth. In general, I'm not a fan of the whole process."Isaac, rated as the No. 8 player in the nation by Chicago-based recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, is more interested in preparing for his senior season. He is working out a lot. He dropped baseball to concentrate on football. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder is putting on more muscle while retaining his 4.5 speed."This year is the most focused I have been for a season," he said. "I never felt like this about something going into it. I'm sitting where I want to be. I'm happy where I am. I just want to be stronger for the season. I'm not worried about getting beat up. I'm trying to take steps to get ready for the next level."His goals for 2012? Joliet Catholic's 70-45 loss to Montini in last year's Class 5A championship still leaves a sour taste in his mouth, despite the fact that he set a playoff record by rushing for 515 yards and six touchdowns. Afterward, Isaac said his sensational performance was "irrelevant" in the wake of the defeat."How disappointing was the finish? It sucked," he said. "Good things came from the game but not what I wanted. Everyone wanted to have something to show for that game rather than a second-place medal. But I feel great as a team and as an individual about the upcoming season."Isaac wants to do better than last year. Better than rushing 178 times for 2,114 yards, averaging 11.9 yards per carry and scoring 45 touchdowns? Better than that? Without 1,000-yards-plus rusher Malin Jones, who is now at Northwestern, in the same backfield? With a huge target on his back?"Ever since I was a freshman, my goal has been to be more productive than the year before," he said. "I will see how much better I got during the off-season. I know I will be a marked man. But that's the way I want it. I am confident with the guys I have in front of me."I have no problem being a prime target because I know others will make plays. I feel I have more of an edge, being able to use my vision and see things before they happen. There won't be a dropoff in carries. I will get the ball as much as last year. I handled it well. Nothing bothered me. I will be prepared for whatever for whatever I have to do."
The Blackhawks have agreed to terms with forward Matej Chalupa on a two-year, entry-level deal, the team announced Friday. His contract carries an average annual value of $925,000 and kicks in during the 2020-21 season.
Chalupa registered 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 50 games with HK Hradec of the Czech Republic League and compiled seven points (five goals, two assists) in 12 games during the club's run to Champions Hockey League final. The 21-year-old Czech native was tied for first on the team in assists (17) and ranked fourth in points (24).
Chalupa is a 6-foot-2, 194-pound left-handed shot forward who's likely to be a bottom-six winger at the NHL level, although an everyday spot on the roster isn't guaranteed. He was former teammates with current Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik at HC Plzen during the 2016-17 campaign.
Chalupa is the first overseas signing of the summer for the Blackhawks, who have been one of the more aggressive teams in that market over the years, which has included names like David Kampf, Michal Kempny, Artemi Panarin and Jan Rutta.
Coby White could deliver some mojo again. Otto Porter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen could continue their progress after returning from injuries. Zach LaVine, well, could be Zach LaVine.
There would certainly be basketball-related benefits if the Bulls wind up one of the teams invited to conclude the NBA’s 2019-20 season in Orlando, Fla.
Having the new management regime watch players in live action and avoiding a nine-month layoff between games should the league begin the 2020-21 season on Christmas Day (as the current scuttlebutt says), represent a few.
But all those positives pale to one significant potential drawback, safety concerns (of which there are many) aside: jeopardizing the Bulls’ draft lottery position.
With the league set for another Board of Governors call on Friday as it nears proposing a suggested return-to-play policy, finalizing the format for the draft lottery is one of many fluid situations. Nothing is yet guaranteed other than — bad joke alert — the Bulls drafting seventh.
Indeed, when COVID-19 shut down the sports world in mid-March, the Bulls ranked seventh in the draft lottery standings. That translates to a 32 percent chance at a top-four pick and a 7.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick.
And while that doesn’t translate to a 100 percent chance at the seventh pick… Man. That the Bulls currently sit No. 7 — where they have drafted White, Wendell Carter Jr. and acquired the rights to Markkanen over the last three drafts — feels twistedly poetic.
Simply put, weak draft or not, a higher pick is more beneficial to the new front office regime than some fluky playoff run. Sorry, Jim Boylen.
Think about it: Say the league invites the top 24 teams to Orlando and the Bulls, currently 12th in the Eastern Conference, make the trip. The best case scenario? The Bulls get hot, build up a bit of good will and, who knows, maybe even advance a round. But their long-term fates don’t change. And if the NBA eventually models a revised lottery formula for this season in a manner similar to the NHL — which awards lottery odds to teams excluded from their play-in round, and teams that are eliminated in the play-in round, regardless of regular season standing — it could hurt their chances at a higher pick significantly, if not erase them entirely.
To be clear, there is currently no indication of the NBA molding its own lottery formula after the NHL’s. In fact, there is nothing concrete on that front to report at all.
Still, for a team mired in a rebuild that needs to maximize its assets, the above would not be a good development.
And all of that’s without mentioning the flipside of a potential trip to Disney World for the Bulls. What if more than a month of potentially high-risk travel and training to retake the floor results in a quick flameout — or merely a handful of meaningless regular season games? Any evaluation that could be conducted over that period, which would be colored by the unprecedented circumstances at hand, simply isn’t worth the cost.
So be careful what you wish for, Bulls fans. Yes, everybody is starved for basketball. And, yes, the Bulls were supposed to be done tanking a while ago.
But this is one time when not getting invited to the party could be a good thing.