Cubs

Simeon's Parker wins USA Basketball Award

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Simeon's Parker wins USA Basketball Award

Simeon basketball star Jabari Parker has been named USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year for all men's basketball teams.

The 6'8 junior, rated as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 and arguably the nation's leading high school player regardless of class, is the youngest ever to receive this prestigious national award.

Parker, son of former Farragut, Texas A&M and NBA star Sonny Parker, was the most valuable player while leading the United States team to the Under-16 championship at the FIBA Americas Championships last summer. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

"He has a complete game," said longtime recruiting analyst Van Coleman of Hot100Hoops.com. "He can run the break off the glass as a point forward or known down threes with much improved regularity. He can finish at the rim in traffic or hit the open man off the dribble if double or triple-teammed.

"He makes everyone around him better. And he isn't afraid to do the dirty work on the glass or lock down the opponent's top scorer. He is the total package. He has drawn comparisons to (NBA stars) Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony because of his ability to make things happen both inside off the dribble or post up as well as with the jumper or pass on the perimeter."

Most veteran recruiting analysts, including Coleman and Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports, rate Parker as the top player in high school regardless of class. He is the leader of a Simeon team that is rated No. 1 in the nation and heavily favored to win its third consecutive state championship and fifth in seven years.

According to his father, Parker won't make his college decision until the fall of his senior year. Jabari, who is Mormon, is considering Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Stanford, Brigham Young, Washington, Connecticut, Florida, Louisville, Georgetown, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and North Carolina State.

Cubs Talk Podcast: It's time for a culture change for the Cubs

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AP

Cubs Talk Podcast: It's time for a culture change for the Cubs

After the Cubs Convention, fans left still uncertain about the team headed into the 2020 season. Host David Kaplan and NBC Sports Chicago Cubs writer Tim Stebbins discuss what they took from Cubs Con, the culture change that is coming to the organization and a realistic possibility that the Cubs are looking into disgruntled star Nolan Arenado.

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Bears Season in Review: Offensive line

Bears Season in Review: Offensive line

The Chicago Bears' offensive line was viewed as one of the team's biggest strengths at the start of the 2019 season. By the time the year came to an end, it was considered one of the club's biggest weaknesses. 

The most concerning issue with the offensive line's regression was that it wasn't isolated to a single player. All five starters played a part in the disappointing performance.

The biggest letdown came at right guard. Kyle Long, even when healthy, was a far cry from the player who at one time was considered one of the most talented offensive linemen in the league. His body failed him again, leading to another injury-shortened year that continued a streak of four straight seasons of nine games or less. Long decided to retire this offseason, leaving the Bears with a big void that GM Ryan Pace has to fill this offseason.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Long was replaced by Rashaad Coward, and while Coward's play wasn't terrible, he isn't the long-term answer the Bears need in the starting lineup. 

Chicago didn't fare much better at offensive tackle, where Bobby Massie and Charles Leno, Jr. each had a season to forget. Massie earned the lowest Pro Football Focus grade of his career (63.2), while Leno, Jr. earned his second-worst (58.6). The offense didn't stand a chance as a result. It's unlikely either player will be replaced in 2020, but more depth (at the very least) is needed.

And let's not forget the drama at center and right guard, where Cody Whitehair and James Daniels were forced to switch positions midseason because of Daniels' struggles at the pivot. Both players fared well once the swap was made. Whitehair finished the year with the Bears' eighth-highest grade on offense from PFF, while Daniels' 70.3 was third-best.

NFL offenses simply don't stand a chance without a functional and consistent offensive line. The 2019 Bears are proof of that. But don't expect sweeping changes (sans right guard) to be made this offseason. Leno, Jr., Massie, Whitehair and Daniels will begin 2020 as starters, and there's a good chance Coward will too. There might be a chance to add a starting-quality player in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, and the Bears should take advantage of that opportunity if it presents itself. But with salary-cap issues and limited draft capital, Chicago may have little choice but to give this unit another season to prove they are, in fact, one of the better starting-fives in the NFC.