Preps Talk

Parker, Nunn, Okafor finalists for the FIBA U17 national team

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Parker, Nunn, Okafor finalists for the FIBA U17 national team

Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn and Jahlil Okafor were among the 14 finalists named to the 2012 USA men's U17 World Championship Team Sunday.The list was cut down from 28 players, and will be cut down againto a finalized12-man rosterearly next week.The players have trained and worked out all week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and willbe thereJune 17through June 20 for training camp.Parker, the No. 1 recruit in the 2013 class, was the MVP of the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship a year ago with the U16 team. That team went a perfect 5-0 in the tournament, defeating Argentina 104-64 in the championship game.Parker finished the tournament with averages of 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He scored 27 points against Brazil in the preliminary round, a USA U16 record.Parker also gave an update on his highly anticipated recruitment. He told SNY's Adam Zagoria he will make a decision on which college to attend in November, prior to his senior season at Simeon.He has a current list of 14 schools: BYU, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio State and Washington.Parker told Zagoria he hopes to narrow his list down to "about eight" sometime over the summer before making his decision.Nunn, Parker's teammate at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, was also a member of the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 championship team. The 6-foot-2 lefty averaged 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in five games.Okafor, a 2014 recruit out of Whitney Young High School in Chicago, averaged 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds in five games for the U16 team last year. He shot better than 71 percent from the field and better than 82 percent from the free throw line.The Chicagoans are three of eight finalists who also played on the undefeated U16 team.Conner Frankamp (Wichita North H.S. Wichita, Kan.), Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S. Apple Valley, Minn.), Beejay Anya (DeMatha Catholic H.S. Gaithersburg, Md.), Dominique Collier (Denver East H.S. Denver, Colo.) and Johnathan Williams (Southwind H.S. Memphis, Tenn.) were named finalists who also played on last year's U16 team.Joel Berry (Lake Highland Prep School Apopka, Fla.), Stephen Domingo (Saint Ignatius Prep San Francisco, Calif.), Rondae Jefferson (Chester H.S. Chester, Pa.), Dakari Johnson (Montverde Academy, Fla. Brooklyn, N.Y.), Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. Fullerton, Calif.) and Justice Winslow (St. John's School Houston, Texas) round out the group.Preliminary round games will be held June 29 through July 4 in Lithuania, with the U.S. team competing against Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France and China.The quarterfinals then begin on Friday July 6, the semifinals July 7 and the finals July 8.

Two 2020 Top Chicagoland names make college choices

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Two 2020 Top Chicagoland names make college choices

Two top names from the Chicagoland Class of 2020 have given verbal commitments so far today.

Chicago Curie senior to be three star ranked offensive tackle Kevo Wesley (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) gave Vanderbilt his verbal commitment this evening while on his official visit this weekend. Wesley, who is holding 29 scholarship offers this summer recently narrowed down his list of favorite schools to both Boston College and Vanderbilt and made official visits to both schools.

Wesley, who didn't play any organized football until his sophomore season under Condors head coach Arthur Ray Jr., saw his transition from football novice to pledging to Vanderbilt and playing in the Southeastern Conference pay off today.

"Kevo just always had a tremendous level of focus," according to Curie head coach Arthur Ray Jr.. "He was a basketball kid who wanted to get better and worked hard. He never missed a workout or a training season  and he would always put in extra work. He always had the academic side taken care and Vanderbilt plays in the SEC plus they offer a great education and it's a great fit."

Wheaton Warrenville South senior K Jack Olsen (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) added a full scholarship offer from Michigan State a few weeks ago and tonight gave the Spartans his verbal commitment while on his official visit. Olsen, ranked as one of the top place kickers in the nation according to Chris Sailer Kicking pointed towards the overall fit for him at Michigan State as a main factor in his decision.

"I have visited Michigan State multiple times and I've always loved it there," Olsen said. "I have always wanted to play in the Big Ten growing up. I've looked into everything that Michigan State has to offer including taking an academics tour. I wanted to make sure I loved the schools for everything and not just the football side."

 

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

One of the Blackhawks’ priorities this summer is to add pieces that will help shore up the defensive part of their game after they gave up the second-most goals in the NHL last season. And they didn’t waste much time doing it.

Less than a week before the 2019 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks announced Saturday that they have acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick.

Maatta is 24 years old, carries a left-handed shot and is two-time Stanley Cup champion. But he battled injuries last season and fell out of favor in Pittsburgh, where he was a healthy scratch for three games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks are hoping a fresh start could help Maatta find his game again, and do it in a place that may better utilize his skill-set. Where he could help is in the defensive part. 

According to The Point, Maatta ranked 9th among defensemen in blocked shots per game (2.05), 26th in defensive zone puck battles won (2.45), 40th in blocked defense zone passes (3.77) and 47th in outlet passes (8.95). 

Maatta, who was taken in the first round (No. 22 overall) in 2012, had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 60 games last season. His best year came in 2017-18 when he tallied 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 82 games. He has three years remaining on his deal that carries a $4.083 million cap hit.

It’s worth noting that when Maatta signing his extension with Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2016, the contract included a modified no-trade clause in his final two years, according to Cap Friendly. The Blackhawks will have the option to either honor that clause or nullify it.

The Blackhawks are expected to have some heavy competition among the forwards at training camp with the signings of Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin. That likely made Kahun expendable despite a rookie season in which he compiled 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games.