Preps Talk

Jay Williams on how special Jahlil Okafor, Jabari Parker could be in NBA

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Jay Williams on how special Jahlil Okafor, Jabari Parker could be in NBA

Jahlil Okafor and Jabari Parker have experienced success at every level of their basketball careers.

In high school, both of them won state championships with their respective Chicago schools, Whitney Young and Simeon. In college, they both attended Duke, where Okafor helped the Blue Devils win their fifth national championship in school history during his freshman year in 2015.

It remains to be seen how their NBA careers will look when it's all said and done, but they're just getting started and former Duke guard and current ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams is confident that the two have bright futures at the professional level.

"I knew they were both going to be successful in the pros," Williams said last month when he visited Comcast SportsNet Chicago to promote his memoir. "Obviously, Jahlil going to Philadelphia is a little bit of a different scenario then Jabari going to Milwaukee, but they're both special players. I knew Jabari was going to be special just because of his footwork and versatility, and his ability to shoot the basketball. And both of these players have the willingness to buy into what Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) was preaching. That's coach ability, and that goes a long way.

"And for Jahlil, it's not every day you see somebody with that size. The NBA is transitioning more to these small forwards, like a Draymond Green. I think Jah, his footwork and his hands, his hand-eye coordination is off the charts. It's a matter for him now to get surrounded by the right pieces and that's where you have to trust upper management for Philadelphia. But no doubt about it, they're both very special players."

[MORE: Friday on CSN: IHSA Class 3A/4A basketball state semifinal]

Williams was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Bulls, where he spent his only season in the big leagues before his life took a sudden turn. He was involved in a motorcycle accident that effectively ended his basketball career.

Williams documented the events and recalled his story in his new book titled, "Life Is Not An Accident."

"Everybody makes mistakes in life," Williams told CSN. "For a long time, I looked at my life through the prism of that mistake and I thought that mistake defined me. As you move on in life, you recognize that this is who I was in my past, this is not who I am now and it's time for me to relinquish the pain that I held from my past and move on because I'm a better person because of it. Fall down seven times, get up the eighth, and that's the way you should live your life."

See what else Williams had to see in the full interview above, which includes some advice for Illinois high school players ahead of the IHSA state championships this weekend on CSN.

Also be sure to check out Williams' appearance on SportsTalk Live from February in the video below.

Illinois AP football rankings: Week 7

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NBC Sports Chicago

Illinois AP football rankings: Week 7

The Illlinois high school football AP polls are out. Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:

Class 8A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Lincoln-Way East (10) 7-0 100 1
2. Loyola 5-2 75 3
3. Warren 7-0 73 2
4. Notre Dame (Niles) 7-0 70 4
5.  Homewood-Flossmoor 6-1 51 6
T-6. Hinsdale Central 7-0 47 5
T-6. Neuqua Valley 6-1 47 7
8. Minooka 7-0 33 8
9. Oswego 7-0 19 9
10. Bolingbrook 6-1 15 10

Others receiving votes: St. Charles East 10, South Elgin 5, Huntley 3, Maine South 2.

Class 7A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. (Chicago) Mt. Carmel (9) 7-0 99 1
2. Nazareth (1) 6-1 85 2
3. Glenbard West 7-0 79 3
4.  Hersey 7-0 65 5
5.  Phillips 6-1 56 6
6. Rolling Meadows 7-0 48 T-7
7.  Batavia 5-2 41 4
8. Benet 6-1 22 T-7
9. Willowbrook 6-1 21 NR
10. Normal Community 6-1 15 NR

Others receiving votes: Andrew 5, DeKalb 4, Glenbard East 4, Grant 3, Conant 2, Brother Rice 1.

Class 6A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Chatham Glenwood (9) 7-0 108 1
2.  Crete-Monee (1) 7-0 95 2
3.  Simeon (1) 5-1 81 3
4. Cary-Grove 6-1 68 4
5. Richards 6-1 62 5
6. Prairie Ridge 6-1 57 6
7. Antioch 6-1 41 8
8. Providence 5-2 34 9
9. Yorkville 6-1 22 7
10.  Lemont 6-1 15 NR


Others receiving votes: Normal West 10, Kaneland 9, Peoria Central 3.

Class 5A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. East St. Louis (12) 7-0 120 1
2. Sterling 7-0 102 2
T-3. Hillcrest 6-1 81 4
T-3.  Boylan Catholic 7-0 81 3
5.  Montini 5-2 65 5
6.  Sycamore 6-1 62 2
7. Marion 7-0 46 7
8. St. Rita 4-3 34 8
9.  Kankakee 6-1 29 9
10.  Carbondale 6-1 17 10

Others receiving votes: Dunlap 8, Cahokia 6, Joliet Catholic 6, St. Laurence 3.

Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. IC Catholic (11) 7-0 119 1
2. Rochester 7-0 106 2
3. Coal City (1) 7-0 99 3
4. Richmond-Burton 7-0 80 4
5. Stillman Valley 7-0 64 5
6.  Mt. Zion 7-0 52 6
7.  Effingham 7-0 39 8
8. Columbia 7-0 35 7
9. Genoa-Kingston 7-0 23 10
10.  St. Francis 6-1 19 9

Others receiving votes: Illinois Valley Central 16, Bishop McNamara 5, Benton 2, Fairbury Prairie Central 1.

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Wilmington (9) 7-0 124 1
2. Williamsville (4) 7-0 121 2
3. Byron 6-1 93 3
4. Beardstown 7-0 85 4
5. Vandalia 7-0 72 5
6. Nashville 7-0 62 6
7. Fairfield 7-0 50 7
8. Pana 7-0 43 8
9. Princeton 6-1 33 9
10. Eureka 6-1 18 10

Others receiving votes: DuQuoin 9, Breese Mater Dei, 3, Mt. Carmel 2.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Fieldcrest (7) 7-0 122 1
2. Clifton Central (5) 7-0 116 2
3. Maroa-Forsyth (1) 6-1 100 3
4. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 6-1 90 4
5.  St. Teresa 6-1 73 5
6.  Knoxville 7-0 67 6
7. Newman Central Catholic 6-1 58 7
8. Bismarck-Henning 6-1 46 8
9. Auburn 5-2 24 9
10. West Carroll 5-2 15 10

Others receiving votes: Flora 2, Orr 2.

Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Lena-Winslow (11) 7-0 119 1
2.  Moweaqua Central A&M 7-0 103 3
3. Annawan-Wethersfield 7-0 88 4
4.  Morrison 7-0 78 5
5.  Ottawa Marquette 7-0 64 6
6. Forreston 6-1 55 2
7. Aquin 7-0 53 7
8. Hope Academy (1) 6-1 44 10
9. Camp Point Central 6-1 31 8
10. Athens 5-2 7 9

Others receiving votes: Tuscola 6, Carrollton 5, Fulton 2, Arcola 2, Kirkland Hiawatha 2, Princeville 1.

Hersey ATH Jordan Hansen pledges to NIU

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Hersey ATH Jordan Hansen pledges to NIU

Hersey senior QB/S Jordan Hansen (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) has decided to give NIU his verbal commitment. 

"I'm really excited about it (commitment to NIU)," Hansen said. "NIU started really recruiting me harder around the beginning of the season. The NIU coaches saw me earlier in the summer at one of the North Central College one day camps and we've been in regular contact ever since then."

Hansen, who was drawing fall recruiting attention from Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota State, Eastern Illinois, and Illinois State felt that NIU was the best overall fit for him.

"NIU has a lot to offer. They recruited me as a safety and I'm more of an athlete recruit for them. I really like all of the coaches at NIU. They are just great guys and they have a plan in place to keep the football program on top. NIU also has nice facilities and really everything at NIU is impressive. NIU is also close to home which is a plus. Distance from home was not a huge factor for me but it definitely works out great for my family."

Hansen is also happy and relieved to have made his college choice.

"It's a big relief for sure. I can just stay focused on my team and on my season without having to worry about recruiting."

Jordan Hansen is the 17th known verbal commitment to the NIU Huskies Class of 2020 and the 3rd known in-state pledge. Hansen joins Oswego OL Jack Hugunin and West Aurora DE Matt Johnson in the NIU 2020 in-state class.