Parker, Simeon get by Morgan Park


Parker, Simeon get by Morgan Park

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011
Posted 10:23 p.m.

By Michael O'Brien

The biggest moments of Jabari Parkers high school basketball career are still to come, but Thursday at Simeon, the Wolverines sophomore phenom came up huge in the final 40 seconds.

He grabbed a crucial rebound, dished off an assist and then drained the free throws that sealed the 52-45 win over visiting Morgan Park in the second round of the Public League playoffs.

Parker also played a huge role in holding Mustangs star Wayne Blackshear to 13 points. Blackshear only managed two points in the second half.

Jabari asked to guard Wayne as soon as we heard we would be playing Morgan Park, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. He wanted the challenge.

Parker finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Blackshear also had 11 rebounds and four blocks.

That was a state championship atmosphere, Smith said. Two of the best programs in the city going at each other.

No. 1 Simeon built a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, but Morgan Park scored nine points in a row, cutting the lead to one on a three from Billy Garrett Jr. with 6:02 to play. The Wolverines missed five free throws in the fourth quarter, allowing the Mustangs to stay close.

We were up by ten, Smith said. Usually we would make those free throws to ice the game.

Parker rebounded Adrian Jeffries missed free throw with 48 seconds to play. He found Rashawn McElrath on the other end for a dunk and then was fouled on the next two Simeon possessions. The 6-7 sophomore drained three of the four free throws to seal the win.

Thats just what he does, Smith said. It doesnt matter what class he is in. Hes the best player in the state of Illinois.

Morgan Park showed up over an hour late for the game. Mustangs coach Nick Irvin was battling the flu, he had been in the hospital earlier in the day.

My two young sophomores (Markee Williams and Garrett) didnt come to play today, Irvin said. They were going too fast. The need to understand that Wayne and Jerome Brown are the leaders. (Brown) took two shots. We cant win with that.

Steve Taylor scored 11 and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Wolverines (22-0) and McElrath added 12.

Garrett Jr. scored 14 for the Mustangs (15-6) and Jeffries added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Bears receive Sports Illustrated's top offseason grade in NFC North

Bears receive Sports Illustrated's top offseason grade in NFC North

The Chicago Bears are less than one month from the start of training camp, but the praise for general manager Ryan Pace's offseason continues to pour in.

Pace and the Bears received an A for their offseason -- the best grade in the NFC North -- from Sports Illustrated. A big part of the perfect score was the overhaul at wide receiver.

Chicago had one of the weakest receiving groups in the NFL last season—the team ranked dead last in passing yards per game (175.7)—so that position was clearly an area of focus this offseason for general manager Ryan Pace. The additions of Allen Robinson from Jacksonville, Taylor Gabriel from Atlanta and Anthony Miller via the draft will boost a stagnant group, assuming Robinson returns fully healthy from last September’s ACL tear. If 2015 first-round pick Kevin White can stay healthy for a full season for the first time in his ill-fated career, it’s an added bonus.

Much is expected from the revamped group of pass-catchers even though none of them have an overwhelming history of production. Robinson had a dominant season in 2015 (1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns), but his last two seasons involved mediocre production in 2016 and a torn ACL in Week 1 last year. Gabriel's never topped more than 621 yards in a season and tight end Trey Burton has been a backup his whole career. Miller has yet to play a snap in the NFL and White, now entering his fourth season, is still looking for his first touchdown catch.

Mitch Trubisky has a lot of work to do once training camp kicks off. Not only must he master coach Matt Nagy's offense, but he must do so while building chemistry with all of his new receivers. Growing pains will happen, but the upside and expectations for the Bears in 2018 are higher than they've been in many years, and it's all because of a great offseason had by the front office.

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares


Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

The unrestricted free agent market opens up for the NHL on July 1. Five-time All-Star John Tavares is will reportedly be meeting with five different teams to talk about the possibility of leaving the only team he's played for his entire career, the New York Islanders. 

After a highly disappointing 33-39-10 finish to the 2017-18 season, many expect Chicago general manager Stan Bowman to be very aggressive this offseason. When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle if the Blackhawks would be one of the five teams going after Tavares, Bowman gave a very reticent answer.

"I woudn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile. 

"No, I'm not going to comment on that, but I know we're gonna have a lot of discussions over the next five or six days and we'll see where it goes."

Reports indicate that the Islanders and Tavares had been trying to work out the terms of a long-term extension, but with so many attractive options out there, it will be a tough decision for him. There are several teams coming off of playoff runs expected to go after Tavares, including Tampa Bay, Las Vegas and San Jose. In addition to those teams, his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be in play as well.

But Chicago's rough year was so out of place for a team so used to winning consistently, that one can imagine their pitch will be enticing.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada had this to say about the Blackhawks potential pursuit of Tavares: "They're not going to tolerate being that bad again, they're going to try something. I think they'll make a run at John Tavares too. I do, I think they'll ask, is there any way we can get him here?"

When taking all of this into account, it is sure to be an extremely exciting free agency period for the Blackhawks. The team is in full "re-tool" rather than "rebuild" mode, and there have been discussions that Kane may be becoming the more vocal leader of the team. But the addition of Tavares to a core of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford could boost the Blackhawks back into Stanley Cup contention.