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Who are the future Hall of Famers?

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Who are the future Hall of Famers?

The inaugural class for the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and Museum in Pinckneyville was inducted in November in a gala ceremony in the Colonnades Club at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

The class included 30 players from the pre-1960 era, 20 from the post-1960 era and 10 women.

Among the honorees present were La Grange's Ted Caiazza, Du Sable's Sweet Charlie Brown, Mount Vernon's Max Hooper, Proviso East's Jim Brewer, Champaign's Ted Beach, Lawrenceville's Jay Shidler, Canton's Dave Downey, West Aurora's Bill Small, West Rockford's Nolden Gentry, Springfield's Dave Robisch, Peoria Manual's Howard Nathan, Marshall's George Wilson, Marshall's Janet Harris and Kim Williams, Benton's Rich Yunkus and Tamms' Chico Vaughn.

So who will be in the second class of inductees? Who just missed the first time around? Who is most deserving? And how many should be inducted? Ten in the pre-1960 era, 10 in the post-1960 era and five women? Five in each category?

The board of directors and the selection committee agreed that the inaugural class should be inclusive while also being exclusive, not too many. After all, major league baseball's Hall of Fame enshrined only five players in its first class in 1936 -- Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner. That's elusive.

In the pre-1960 era, leading candidates are Elgin's Flynn Robinson and Don Sunderlage, Princeton's Joe Ruklick, South Shore's Jake Fendley, Taylorville's Billy Ridley, Galva's Rich Falk, Champaign's Rod Fletcher, Mount Vernon's Junior Kirk, Galesburg's Bumpy Nixon, Fenger's Sammy Esposito, Carrier Mills' Catfish Rollins, Rock Island's Richard Litt, Paris'
Dick Foley, Moline's Whitey Verstraete, Herrin's John Tidwell, Peoria's Hiles Stout, Dunbar's Bernie Mills, Crane's Tim Robinson, Bloom's Homer Thurman, Wells' Abe Booker and Mount Carmel's Jack Stephens.

In the post-1960 era, leading candidates are St. Anne's Jack Sikma, Eldorado's Mike Duff, West Aurora's Kenny Battle, Thornton's Lloyd Batts and LaMarr Thomas, Westinghouse's Kiwane Garris, Hersey Hawkins and Eddie Johnson, Hirsch's Rickey Green, La Grange's Owen Brown and Marcus Washington, Fenwick's Corey Maggette, Manley's Russell Cross, Marshall's Rich Bradshaw, Galesburg's Dale Kelley and Joey Range, Hales Franciscan's Sam Puckett, Simeon's Deon Thomas, Vocational's Juwan Howard, Rockford East's Skip Thoren, East St. Louis' Darius Miles, Madison's Don Freeman, King's Rashard Griffith, Carver's Terry Cummings, Farragut's Ronnie Fields, St. Francis de Sales' Eric Anderson, Peoria Manual's Frank Williams, Gordon Tech's Tom Kleinschmidt, Providence's Walter Downing, Jacksonville's Andy Kaufmann, Whitney Young's Quentin Richardson and Moline's Steve Kuberski.

And what about Dwyane Wade? A Richards graduate of 2000, the NBA all-star is eligible. So is Eddy Curry, a Thornwood graduate of 2001 and an NBA lottery pick. Players aren't eligible to be considered for Hall of Fame recognition until 10 years after they graduate from high school.

How would you like to pick five players from that elite group?

Leading women candidates are Marshall's Jennifer Jones, Maria Christian, Kim McQuarter and Toni Foster, Phillips' Shirley Joiner, Maine West's Nancy Kennelly, Sandburg's Sarah Kustok, Whitney Young's Natasha Pointer and Cappie Pondexter, Downers Grove North's Terri Zemaitis and Immaculate Heart of Mary's Michele Savage.

Obviously, the selection committee's job will be no less difficult in choosing the second class of inductees than it was in paring down the list for the inaugural class.

If that isn't tough enough, many basketball fans from throughout the state are nominating players who previously were flying under the radar but certainly have the credentials to warrant serious consideration.

The names include Reggie Murray of Cregier, Perry Barclift of Quincy, Roger Powell of Joliet Central, Billy Lewis of Farragut, Doug Collins of Benton, Bo Ellis of Parker, Bob Guyette of Ottawa Marquette, Lynch Conway of Peoria, Doug Altenberger of Peoria Richwoods, Dean Ehlers of Trico-Campbell Hill and Scott Steagall of Stewardson.

According to veteran Quincy historian Tom Oakley, Barclift rates behind only Bruce Brothers as the top Quincy product in the pre-1960s era, ahead of Bill Kurz of Quincy Notre Dame and Gary Phillips of Quincy. Barclift led the Blue Devils to the 1934 state championship, beating Lou Boudreau and Thornton. He scored 22 points in the state final, then a tournament record. He was a charter member of the Quincy Sports Hall of Fame.

While Oakley strongly supports the candidacy of Barclift and Michael Payne of Quincy's great 1981 team, he admits his personal favorite is Quincy's Larry Moore, who averaged 27.5 points in four tournament games in 1972.

"I personally feel Larry was the most exciting of all Quincy players, particularly from an offensive standpoint," Oakley said. "He was the Pete Maravich of Quincy High and set records that may never be broken. In his senior year, he scored 910 points and averaged 27.6 per game. This was before the three-point shot which, had it been in effect, would have dramatically increased his scoring totals."

A Hall of Fame without a representative from Galesburg? Longtime Galesburg sportswriters Mike Trueblood and Jay Redfern rate Bumpy Nixon (1959), Joey Range (1998) and Dale Kelley (1966) at the top of the list. Galesburg coach John Thiel said Nixon was the best player he ever produced. And veteran coaches Jerry Leggett, Duncan Reid and Frank Dexter said Range was among the top five players in the history of the Western Big Six Conference.

"From my research on Lynch Conway (who scored 22 points while leading Peoria to the first state championship in 1908), I suspect he might be one of the few folks from a century ago with the athletic ability to adjusttranslate to the skills necessary in today's game," said retired Peoria sportswriter Bob Leavitt.

Bruce Parmenter cited Scott Steagall of Stewardson, who played in 1947. "I played against him twice. He scored 27 in one game and 39 in the other. He was one of the first jump shooters and the best on the dribble-drive that I ever saw. He was an All-American at Millikin University and led the nation in scoring in his senior year, averaging over 30 per game," he said.

While Steagall had impressive credentials, he didn't earn All-State recognition in 1947. Dean Ehlers of Trico-Campbell Hill did. He led the state in scoring as a senior with 920 points, including games of 54, 60 and 63 points. He scored over 2,000 points in his career.

Longtime coach, scout and recruiting analyst Bill "Flash" Flanagan of Bloomington cited a host of post-1960s players whom he believes are worthy of Hall of Fame recognition. No. 1 on his list is Roger Powell of Joliet Central, a three-time All-Stater who led his team to third place in the 1970 state tournament as a sophomore and was the leading scorer in the state finals.

"Can you imagine if they would have had the three-point shot when he played?" Flanagan said.

His list also includes Billy Lewis of Farragut, Doug Collins of Benton, Jeff Wilkins of Elgin, Bo Ellis of Parker, Bob Guyette of Ottawa Marquette, Corey Maggette of Fenwick and Terry Cummings of Carver.

Collins is an interesting case. He didn't receive All-State recognition while playing at Benton. Between his junior year at Benton and his freshman year at Illinois State, he grew six inches but still retained his guard skills. As a sophomore, he was a first-team All-American. As a senior, he was the No. 1 pick in the 1973 NBA draft. And he was as standout on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team.

"There are a couple of other reasons why I would give Doug heavy consideration for the Hall of Fame," Flanagan said. "He has always been very generous in giving to good causes when it comes to the world of sports. Just ask Illinois State about that."

Guyette is often overlooked because he chose to play at Kentucky. The 6-8 center was a high school All-America at tiny Ottawa Marquette in 1971 but still took his team to the No. 9 ranking in the state at the end of the regular season -- a year before the two-class system was adopted.

"One night when I was representing Eastern Carolina," Flanagan recalled, "I was scouting Guyette in Ottawa along with Adolph Rupp (Kentucky), Sam Miranda (Kansas), Sam Esposito (North Carolina State) and Harv Schmidt (Illinois), just to name a few. As we know, Rupp got his man. And Guyette went on to have a great career at Kentucky. He was a big boy who could really play."

What Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan trades mean for future of Blackhawks defense

What Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan trades mean for future of Blackhawks defense

After finishing 30th in goals against average (3.55) and 31st in penalty kill percentage (72.7) this past season, the Blackhawks are clearly making it a priority to patch up their defense this summer. And that's been evident with the acquisitions of defensive-minded defensemen Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta.

But it raises some interesting questions about the future of the Blackhawks blue line.

With the de Haan and Maatta additions, the Blackhawks now have five defensemen under contract through at least the 2021-22 season: Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million cap hit), Duncan Keith ($5.538 million), de Haan ($4.55 million), Maatta ($4.083 million) and Connor Murphy ($3.85 million). That's $24.8 million tied up to five guys.

The money isn't the primary concern, though. It's the limited amount of roster spots available. The Blackhawks don't have to immediately figure out how it's going to work a year from now and beyond, but it makes you wonder how the cards may eventually be shuffled.

Let's run through the situations:

— Erik Gustafsson had a breakout season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He's obviously not part of the five current players under contract after next season, putting the Blackhawks in a spot where they have to consider trading him or be comfortable with letting him walk for nothing if he isn't re-signed. (They could always trade his negotiating rights after next season and pull off a sign-and-trade as well, if it came to that).

And even if Gustafsson is re-signed, the Blackhawks would then have six players locked up for the 2020-21 season and on, and that's enough to submit a lineup.

— Henri Jokiharju, who was drafted No. 29 overall in 2017, is probably ready to take the next step and become an everyday player. Where does he fit into the long-term plans?

— Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018, likely needs one more year in the OHL before making the jump to the NHL, which would put him on a timeline to become part of the Blackhawks next season. Does he occupy that sixth spot if another one isn't opened by then?

— Nicolas Beaudin, who was drafted No. 27 overall in 2018, is expected to start the upcoming season in Rockford after four years in the QMJHL but might be NHL-ready by the 2020-21 campaign.

— And then there's Ian Mitchell, who's returning to Denver for his junior season and will serve as the team's captain. He's said all along that he intends to sign with the Blackhawks once he's finished with college, but does the organization value him enough to create a spot for him when he's ready?

To make things a little more complicated, the Seattle expansion draft is set to occur in 2021 and the same rules will apply as Vegas in 2017.

The Blackhawks have the option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters and one goaltender. All players with no-movement clauses at the time of the expansion draft (and who decline to waive them) must be protected; Keith and Seabrook have a NMC. And all first- and second-year pros are exempt; Jokiharju would have to be protected.

As of this moment, the Blackhawks are likely to use the eight-skater option, but they will also have valuable forwards to protect. They're going to lose a good player one way or another, and it's probably going to come from the defensive group. All of this comes into play when weighing roster decisions for next season and beyond.

As stated above, the Blackhawks do not have to make an immediate decision on the future of their blue line corps. They can play out the 2019-20 season with the group as currently constructed. But the decisions the Blackhawks have to face next season could impact how Stan Bowman operates the rest of this summer and the upcoming campaign.

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Bulls' Coby White has 7th best odds to win 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year

Bulls' Coby White has 7th best odds to win 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year

The 2019 NBA Draft has finally come and gone, and we now have a much better idea of how the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year race will pan out.

Of course, Zion Williamson has been the frontrunner to win ROY in most sports books before the draft even happens, and not much has changed since then at the top, with Williamson listed as a -450 favorite to win the award via Caesars. But when perusing through the rest of the top ROY odds, it is interesting where the split comes in terms of Caesar’s confidence in each first-year talent.

The top five in the odds were pretty much chalk, with the top five draft picks having the best odds in order, besides No. 5 overall pick Darius Garland finishing ahead of No. 4 overall pick De’Andre Hunter. Garland’s +1000 odds are likely the result of the general expectation that he and incumbent point guard Collin Sexton will be the driving forces of the Cavaliers’ offense.

Meanwhile, Hunter is sure to serve in more of a supporting role as a wing opposite Cam Reddish (+2500 odds) and 2018 NBA ROY runner up Trae Young, who possess much more in terms of ball handling and shot-creating ability. Speaking of ball handling and shot-creating ability, Bulls No. 7 overall pick Coby White comes in tied for 7th with +3000 odds to come away with the ROY award. 

White has the same odds as No. 8 pick Jaxson Hayes, and only slightly better odds than No. 9 pick Rui Hachimura and No. 15 pick Sekou Doumbouya. Historically, the ROY award goes to whichever first-year player has the most productive season in terms of raw numbers. White is expected to compete for the starting point guard job with Kris Dunn and whatever veterans the Bulls front office brings in.

While it is true that Coby White is not guaranteed a starring role in Chicago, the average-to-below-average guard play that the organization has received over the years would seem to indicate that the speedy first-year guard will be a fixture in the rotation all season long. 

When bettors first glance at White’s +3000 odds, they make look at it as a normal line and reasonably stay away from the longshot. But if you--like Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson--believe that White is an extremely coachable talent who will help get the entire Bulls team to commit to a more up-tempo style, then rolling with White’s odds in the ROY race is a no-brainer.

Waiting to see how free agency shakes out would be a prudent move on the part of bettors, but have confidence in White, who figures to be a crucial part of the rotation whether or not the Bulls go with a veteran starter or the incumbent, Kris Dunn, in the lead guard spot.