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Simeon's Parker ranks No. 1, compared to Garnett

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Simeon's Parker ranks No. 1, compared to Garnett

Friday, Sept 16, 2011
Posted: 1:24 p.m.

By Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

The two most widely respected basketball recruiting analysts in the country agree that Simeon's Jabari Parker is the No. 1 player in the class of 2013, if not the best player regardless of class, based on extensive evaluations during the past spring and summer.

"He has improved his game in places that he didn't have, said Van Coleman of Hot100Hoops.com, who has been evaluating high school players for more than 30 years. Now he is a very good three-point shooter, which is why people have compared him to Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce.

"He is the most consistent player in his class. I saw him in Milwaukee in April and he never went downhill all summer long. He clearly was the go-to guy for Team USA. He lifts people around him. He understands the game, is a good passer, good handler and can play in a team concept."

Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports, who also has been evaluating teenage talent since the 1970s, said Parker rates ahead of Julius Randle and Nerlens Noel "because he has the total package of offensive and defensive skills. You could make a strong case for him being the best player of all."

Gibbons said Parker could be the best player he has seen since former Farragut star Kevin Garnett in 1995.

"I like the way he handles himself, he said. He isn't a showboat. He is athletic, knows the game, can score and has skills and abilities advanced for his age. You never would know by watching him on the court that he is in the class of 2013."

Coleman pointed out that the 6-foot-7 Parker dropped 20 pounds -- "He was getting heavy in the middle," Coleman said -- and appeared much quicker and more explosive. He is improving his skills, particularly his three-point shooting, as former Simeon star Derrick Rose did on his way from Memphis to the NBA.

If not Parker, then who?

If Parker isn't the No. 1 player in the nation, regardless of class, Coleman might give an edge to 6-foot-6 Shabazz Muhammad of Las Vegas, who is the top-rated player in the class of 2012,. Gibbons, meanwhile, is high on 6-foot-6 Julius Randle of Plano, Texas, who was rated as the No. 1 player in the class of 2013 before Parker made his spring and summer surge.

"Muhammad is a more explosive athlete," Coleman said, "but Parker is a better shooter and a more skilled player."

"Randle came on. He was pretty amazing and consistent in all events he played in," Gibbons said. "Some say he is the best junior. Physically, he is stronger than Parker. But Parker has more talent."
Class is in session

Parker wasn't the only Chicagoland product who impressed Coleman and Gibbons in recent months. Here is a look at representatives from the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014:

: Simeon's Steve Taylor, a 6-foot-7 senior who is universally regarded as the No. 1 player in Illinois in the class of 2012, climbed to No. 67 nationally. His offseason play earned him a scholarship to Marquette.

"I saw him when Jabari Parker wasn't there and he made a difference, Coleman said. He could be a top 50 player by the end of the season. "In fact, at one event, a college scout said he would be a 'one and done' player an NBA draftee after his freshman year if he continued to play hard all the time. He has that kind of potential."

: Five Chicago players -- Parker, Whitney Young's Tommy Hamilton, Simeon's Kendrick Nunn, De La Salle's Alex Foster and Morgan Park's Billy Garrett -- could rank among the nations top 50 in the class of 2013 and as many as 11 could rank among the top 150. It is a deep class, like 1979 and 1998.

: Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor and Paul White and Curie's Cliff Alexander are headliners in the class of 2014. Okafor, a 6-foot-8, 240-pounder, is battling 6-foot-10 Dakari Johnson of Elizabeth, N.J., for the No. 2 spot behind 6-foot-7 Andrew Wiggins of Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.

"Okafor more than holds his own against older kids and dominates against kids his own age," Coleman said. "He has great hands, a nice touch and can power it up and throw it down."

: Alexander, a 6-foot-9 power forward, "has made as big a move as anyone in the last 8-10 months," said Coleman. "He has great hands, powers around the basket and can run the floor well. He gets the ball off the glass and gets it down the floor."

Alexander already has offers from Illinois, DePaul and Michigan State. He and Curie teammate Detalion Jackson, a 6-foot-10 freshman, recently made a visit to the Indiana campus. According to Coleman, Okafor and Alexander would rank among the top 10 in the nation in the class of 2014.

: Best player nobody knows about? McKenzie Moore, a 6-foot-7 fifth-year senior from Pleasant Hill, Calif. He didn't play as a true senior because of California rules. He was going to attend California-St. Mary's. Nobody knew anything about him. But he caught everybody's attention in Las Vegas. He has offers from the Big 10, Pac-10 and Big East. He may have to go to a junior college. But he could be a pro some day.

Coleman, who is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, annually travels coast-to-coast to evaluate 10,000 kids at 30 events during a 26-week period. He averages 40,000 miles via car, 30,000 miles via air. His luggage once landed in Dayton while he was arriving in Dallas.

"There is no such thing as vacation," he said. "You take a day off when you can. When I stop traveling, I write and do scouting service stuff and write about commitments."

He lists about 50 great restaurants along his route but he insists the best meal he has at Rube's Steakhouse in Montour, Iowa, only 50 miles from his home. He says you can't beat Rube's signature steak, a 24-ounce sirloin.

The buffet at Bellagio in Las Vegas isn't bad, either.

The best hotel? Avia in Long Beach, Calif. It rates four stars. "I can't afford it. It's a luxury hotel. But I've got to go there," he said.

Now he is launching a new project, XnOfan.com, which will cover basketball and football, like Scout and Rivals. It will be free to one and all.

"My worst experience? I went to check in at the Minneapolis airport and lost my credit card," Coleman recalled. "Somebody found it but an airlines employee cut it up. They are supposed to keep them for three days.

"Well, I was going to Las Vegas and had only 40 in my pocket. I called my wife Kris and asked her to wire me 500 through Western Union. The bank said it would take some time to send me a replacement credit card. I was in Las Vegas with no money for two days."

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Markkanen and LaVine lead Bulls over T-Wolves

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USA TODAY

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Markkanen and LaVine lead Bulls over T-Wolves

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and David Watson react to the Bulls' 117-110 win over the Timberwolves.

0:45: Reaction to Bulls winning 10th game at home this season and good game from Lauri Markkanen

3:50: On Cristiano Felicio having his best game of the season

6:45: Viewer comment on Lauri Markkanen

8:20: On Jim Boylen calling a timeout with five seconds left

10:05: Viewer comment on Lauri’s play and postseason chances

11:15: Viewer comment on Kris Dunn not getting enough credit

13:30: Viewer comment celebrating a win

14:30: Viewer comment why the Bulls should sign Joakim Noah

15:20: Kendall Gill wants to know if Matt Peck saw what Derrick Rose did tonight

16:25: Viewer comment on afraid Lauri Markkanen becomes the Bulls Andrew Wiggins

17:30: Viewer comment on Chandler Hutchison developing his offensive game

19:30: Viewer comments on Felicio and Denzel Valentine

22:05: The Outsiders react to Channel 7’s Mark Giangreco throwing shade at the Bulls Outsiders during an appearance on Waddle and Silvy

Bulls get contributions top-to-bottom, outlast Timberwolves at home

Bulls get contributions top-to-bottom, outlast Timberwolves at home

The Zach LaVine Show can be tremendous fun. But, every once in a while, even he needs a little help from his friends. 

Against the Timberwolves, he got just enough. Including he and Lauri Markkanen — who eclipsed 20 points for the tenth time this season — the Bulls got double-digit scoring contributions from six players; Luke Kornet (15), Kris Dunn (14), Coby White (12) and Cristiano Felicio (12). Chandler Hutchison chipped in nine points and three steals, to boot.

"It helped us out a lot, especially when you can go deep into your bench like that," LaVine said. "I feel like that's how you can beat teams."

That's especially true on a night when LaVine wasn't his most prolific. He ended the game with 25 points, but with two-and-a-half minutes remaining and the Bulls trailing 105-104, he had just 18 on 6-for-15 shooting. As LaVine is wont to do, he did close the game out with seven of the Bulls' last 13 points, but credit the ancillary guys for keeping the team afloat during the meat of the game. A Bulls bench that had largely lost its umph since Dunn's insertion into the starting lineup outscored the Timberwolves' reserves 40-17.

"I think our second unit picked up our starters, and we obviously finished it out," LaVine said.

"It's really important to have everyone be able to step up, and you never kinda know night to night who it's gonna be," Kornet said. "Tonight was one of the more well-rounded games in that aspect and I feel like that's when you're the most difficult to play."

Kornet has now scored in double-figures in four of his last five games. Felicio's 12 points and 10 rebounds were both more than the nine points and seven rebounds he had this season entering play. Neither offered much resistance against Karl-Anthony Towns (40 points, 16-for-24 shooting), but neither were thought to be contibuting pieces as recently as a month ago. Their 27 combined points offset the Wolves' star as much as one could hope.

Jim Boylen also continued to tinker with his rotations, relying heavily on an ultra-small lineup of Tomas Satoransky, LaVine, Dunn, White and Markkanen down the stretch. He turned to it with the Bulls leading 104-103. Then, over three game minutes, they extended the lead to 113-108, essentially icing the game.

"I just thought we needed to score, we weren't gonna change our coverages unless we went to the switch and that group," Boylen said. "We just could not go through a drought in those last four minutes."

It's a win that befit what's been a tumultuous month of January. Even in victory, there was much to lament. A 19-point first half lead melted, giving way for a much-too-tense second half. Head-scratching mistakes continued to abound. In the eyes of many — especially the Bulls — this should have been a rout. 

But it's hard to gripe too much. The win moves the Bulls to 4-8 in January. 

"It's not progress that we let them back into the game," Markkanen said. "But it's nice to be able to pull the win down the stretch."

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