White Sox

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


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

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

By Taylor Bell

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."

Jon Jay is taking batting practice, but his return to White Sox doesn't sound near


Jon Jay is taking batting practice, but his return to White Sox doesn't sound near

The White Sox are still waiting on one of their offseason acquisitions to make his 2019 debut. And it doesn't sound like it will be coming soon.

Jon Jay, signed to a one-year free-agent deal over the winter, has yet to play during the regular season, still dealing with the back, hip and groin injury that cropped up during spring training. His recovery process has been infrequently discussed by the White Sox, who seem to simply be stuck in wait-and-see mode with the veteran outfielder.

Jay took batting practice for the first time since the start of the regular season this week in Baltimore. But despite that sounding like a noteworthy step, manager Rick Renteria made it sound like Jay's return is still a good deal away.

"He's moving along," Renteria told reporters ahead of Wednesday night's game. "He took some BP yesterday. He's increasing his work, controlled work in a controlled environment. He's out there throwing now. So he's moving along as good as we can expect he should be.

"I think we're being cautious and simply allowing him to get his feet underneath him. He's out there now with the boys and trying to get back out on the diamond and do the work he can. And then the training staff will continue to give us an update measuring — it's slow and go right now. But he's coming along in a positive manner.

"Ultimately there will be a rehab assignment. That goes without saying. I think it just depends on when it begins. Right now, this is barely going to be the second day where he's taking BP out there, so we're a little bit away from me to even speculate as to when it can be, early or late. I couldn't give you anything in an accurate form."

That's hardly an encouraging update from the skipper, at least for those hoping to see Jay back in the lineup in the near future.

Jay played in a dozen Cactus League games during the spring, slashing a promising .324/.361/.500 with a couple homers and eight RBIs. While many fans latched on to his connection to star free agent Manny Machado this winter, Jay can provide a boost for the White Sox batting order, bringing the on-base skills that have yielded a .352 career on-base percentage. Only four or five White Sox hitters have succeeded from an on-base standpoint this season: Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, James McCann, Ryan Cordell and Jose Rondon have on-base percentages over .350 (those last two in limited playing time), while everyone else on the team is reaching base at clips under .330.

But when those skills can be imported into the lineup remains a mystery at the moment.

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Blackhawks 'mutually agree to part ways' with assistant coach Don Granato


Blackhawks 'mutually agree to part ways' with assistant coach Don Granato

The Blackhawks announced Wednesday that they have mutually agreed to part ways with assistant coach Don Granato. He was hired on June 15, 2017 and spent two seasons with the team.

“We appreciate Don’s contributions to the Blackhawks organization while on the staff,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a statement. “We wish him well in the future as he pursues other opportunities.”

The move allows Colliton to handpick his second assistant coach with Sheldon Brookbank remaining on the staff. The responsibilities between Brookbank and Granato were shared this season, but that's likely to change going into next season to a more traditional structure of one assistant coach handling the forwards and power play and the other the defensemen and penalty kill.

One potential candidate to fill the vacant position could be Derek King, who was on Colliton's staff with the Rockford IceHogs and served as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season after Colliton got promoted to Chicago. King is viewed as a player's coach and is well-respected within the organization.

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