Preps Talk

Parker, Nunn lead Simeon past Whitney Young


Parker, Nunn lead Simeon past Whitney Young

By Patrick Z.
The Pavilion seemed closer to a rock show than a high school basketball game Thursday night for the clash between top-ranked Simeon and No. 25 Young.

On the floor and wearing a Simeon letterman jacket, Derrick Rose sat next to John Calipari, his former coach at Memphis. Caliparis top freshman recruit at Kentucky, former Perspectives-MSA star Anthony Davis, was among the estimated 6,000 fans in attendance.

The spotlight belonged squarely on the present. The two marquee players, Simeons Jabari Parker and Youngs Jahlil Okafor, did not disappoint.

Parker just had a bit more help.

The 6-8 junior scored 15 points and added nine rebounds, four blocks and two assists as the Wolverines broke open a one-point halftime lead with a third-quarter flourish that keyed a 62-55 victory.

Simeon sharpshooter Kendrick Nunn drilled three three-pointers in scoring a team-best 19 points for the Wolverines (8-0). Marquette-bound 6-8 center Steve Taylor scored 16 points and contributed five rebounds and five steals.

Parker registered two blocks and a steal and scored on a drive during a 12-6 Simeon run that pushed its lead to 38-31.

Our third quarters have been huge for us the whole year, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. We try to navigate that quarter to really take control.

Okafor, the 6-11 sophomore, scored a game-high 20 points and recorded nine rebounds and three blocked shots for the Dolphins (4-2).

Hes great, Smith said of Okafor. I dont believe theres another better player in the country in that class.

I have tremendous respect for his game.

Parker struggled with his shot, making only 3 of 10 shots in the first half. But he showcased a complete game that proved too much for the Dolphins to overcome.

Junior Jaylon Tate, a De La Salle transfer, opened the fourth quarter with a rare four-point play. Hes starting to understand our system and whats needed out there, Smith said.

Taylor scored on a crucial short jumper in the lane on a Tate assist with 1:03 remaining after Young used an 11-1 run to pull within 53-50 with 1:30 to play. Jelani Neely converted 4-of-4 free throws in the final seconds to secure the victory.

Breaking: LW East AJ Henning to Michigan

NBC Sports Chicago

Breaking: LW East AJ Henning to Michigan

Lincoln-Way East 4 star ranked running back AJ Henning (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) today gave the University of Michigan his verbal commitment.

"At the end of the day Michigan was just the best overall for me," Henning said. "Michigan has stuck with me in this process for a long time including when I was injured and never backed off. Michigan also recruited me but also  got to know my family well which really made a strong impression on me."

Henning, who narrowed down his final list of schools to Michigan. Georgia, Notre Dame and Penn State new that Michigan was his school after his recent official visit. 

"When I made my official visit to Michigan is when I knew that I found my school. I was able to just get a great feel for the coaches and the guys on the team on my official visits. I just felt that I will be a great fit at Michigan socially, athletically, academically and that I really fit in well with the guys on the team. After my official visit I knew that Michigan was the place I needed to be."

Henning, who ended up selecting Michigan over scholarship offers from 33 FBS schools  is bit thrilled and relived to have announced his college choice.

"It's definitely a relief, but just being able to be recruited and offered scholarships from 33 different schools is a true blessing. I'm just glad I found a home in Michigan."

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history


The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

Listen, Tom. We like you. A lot. You do incredible work and you give us shoutouts. But we had to read through your latest piece, “Ranking the 10 greatest lineups in NBA history,” a few times before realizing you had a massive omission.

We present the following: The 1995-1998 Chicago Bulls.

PG: Ron Harper
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: Scottie Pippen
PF: Toni Kukoc
C: Dennis Rodman

Total All-Star appearances: 23
MVP Players: 1
DPOY Players: 2
Finals MVP Players: 1
Titles won together: 3

We thank you for mentioning Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in your piece. They were pretty good, we agree. We’ll dig a little deeper on those two to begin our argument. From 1995 to 1998, Jordan averaged 29.6 points on 48% shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals. He also didn’t miss a game, playing in 304 of a possible 304 games. He was also named league MVP twice and Finals MVP all three years. Pippen wasn’t too shabby a sidekick, averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in that three-year span.

These guys were all-time greats, but you might have forgotten that they weren’t alone.

All Dennis Rodman did in this three-season span was lead the league in rebounding all three years (15.3 per game). He wasn’t the same All-Star talent that he was in his Detroit days – also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year – and his San Antonio stint but he was still critical to the Bulls’ success. The Worm had a little bit of Draymond Green in him, not afraid to take on any defensive assignment to allow the Bulls a little more versatility. He got assignments of Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in the Finals.

Kukoc is where we bend the rules a bit, but we hope you’ll allow it (mostly because our argument turns to dust if we need to talk about Luc Longley). Kukoc was the 1996 Sixth Man of the Year (hey, you said they could be closing lineups, too) and was a model of consistency in those three seasons. He averaged 13.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists and gave the Bulls another ball handler and distributor, as well as versatile defense. He’s at times the forgotten gem of the Jerry Krause era, and he’s more than just a funny story from the Dream Team era.

The Bulls had their Iguodala, too. Ron Harper averaged a modest 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in these three seasons with the Bulls. But he also did it with a 14.9% usage rate. That was lower than Bill Wennington’s usage rate of 17.0% in that same span! Let’s not forget that Harper had averaged 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in eight seasons with the Cavaliers and Clippers before signing with the Jordan-less Bulls. He would have had a much larger and more effective role had Jordan not returned (we’re glad he did). In 1998, Harper also had the pleasure of guarding Gary Payton and John Stockton in the Bulls’ three Finals victories. Have you had enough of the Iggy comparisons yet?

So there it is. Five incredible players to put together three remarkable championship seasons that included the Greatest Team in the History of Basketball (our capitalization intended). Feel free to update your story as needed.