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Who are the next Hall of Famers?

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Who are the next Hall of Famers?

It seems like only yesterday -- Nov. 5, to be exact -- that a lot of old-timers gathered in the Colonnade Room at Memorial Stadium in Champaign to induct the inaugural class of the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and Museum in Pinckneyville.

Now it is time to nominate players for the second class of Hall of Famers. But this assignment will be even tougher. The list of inductees for the Class of 2012 will be limited to 10 in the pre-1960s era, 10 in the post-1960s era and five women.

It was easier to pick 30, 20 and 10 for the inaugural class. There were few complaints when they were announced. Ask yourself: If I'm picking an all-time Illinois team, who would be on it? There are no ifs, ands or buts in that discussion.

But now the list of candidates is almost as long and as distinguished but the number of Hall of Fame spots is much smaller.

If you could pick one pitcher to start the seventh game of the World Series, would you give the ball to Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton or Bob Feller?

If you needed one basket to win the seventh game of the NBA championship, would you pass the ball to Michael Jordan, Larry Bird or Jerry West?

Get the point?

Who are the leading candidates in the pre-1960s era?

My 10-man list includes South Shore's Jake Fendley, Peoria's Lynch Conway, Galesburg's Bumpy Nixon, Champaign's Rod Fletcher, Galva's Rich Falk, Paris' Bob Owens, Carrier Mills' Catfish Rollins, Wells' Abe Booker, Princeton's Joe Ruklick and Bloom's Homer Thurman.

That's a good starting point for a good debate, right?

But what about Peoria Central's Hiles Stout, Herrin's John Tidwell, Quincy's Perry Barclift, Mount Vernon's Junior Kirk, Dongola's Joe Aden, Decatur's Bob Doster and Campbell Hill's Arlen Bockhorn?

Are you forgetting Taylorville's Billy Ridley, Elgin's Flynn Robinson and Don Sunderlage, Fenger's Sammy Esposito, Marshall's Irv Bemoras, DePue's Ron Zagar, Ridgway's Roger Suttner, Rock Island's Richard Litt, Springfield's Tom Cole, Tilden's Johnny Kerr, West Frankfort's Cotton Hughes, Campbell Hill's Dean Ehlers and Stewardson's Scott Steagall?

Remember, a good rule of thumb when trying to separate one Hall of Fame candidate from another, is to ask yourself: If you have to ask who, then you have to ask why. In other words, a true Hall of Famer doesn't need an introduction. Merely the mention of his name should warrant a nod in the affirmative. Do we need to discuss the credentials of Isiah Thomas or Dike Eddleman?

So who are the leading candidates in the post-1960s era?

My 10-man list includes Thornton's Lloyd Batts, Hales Franciscan's Sam Puckett, St. Anne's Jack Sikma, Fenwick's Corey Maggette, Galesburg's Joey Range, Dunbar's Billy Harris, Richards' Dwyane Wade, East St. Louis' Darius Miles, Manley's Russell Cross and Moline's Steve Kuberski.

But what about Collinsville's Bogie Redmon and Rodger Bohnenstiehl, Carver's Terry Cummings and Tim Hardaway, Eldorado's Mike Duff, Marion's Greg Starrick, Quincy's Michael Payne and Jacksonville's Andy Kaufmann?

Are you forgetting Benton's Doug Collins, Springfield Lanphier's Ed Horton, Farragut's Ronnie Fields, Mount Carmel's Antoine Walker, Thornwood's Eddy Curry, Peoria Manual's Sergio McClain, Westinghouse's Eddie Johnson, Hersey Hawkins and Kiwane Garris, Lincoln's Norman Cook, King's Rashard Griffith, Du Sable's Maurice Cheeks and Ottawa Marquette's Bob Guyette?

Benton's Doug Collins, who went on to have an outstanding career at Illinois State and the NBA, is a partial answer to an interesting trivia question: Which five All-NBA players didn't make All-State? Collins, Du Sable's Maurice Cheeks, Elgin's Flynn Robinson, Tilden's Johnny Kerr and Thornridge's Kevin Duckworth.

Remember, the first criteria for selection into the Hall of Fame is high school performance.

Hey, you could pick five players from this group and take on any all-star team--Dunbar's Ronnie Lester, West Aurora's Kenny Battle, Vocational's Juwan Howard, Simeon's Deon Thomas, Ridgway's Ron Stallings, Hirsch's Rickey Green, Marshall's Rich Bradshaw, Whitney Young's Quentin Richardson, East Rockford's Skip Thoren and Madison's Don Freeman.

See how tough it is?

The girls selection committee, chaired by former Chicago Sun-Times high school sports editor Steve Tucker, who also is a former member of the selection committee for the McDonald's All-America Game, nominated five for Hall of Fame induction.

They are Marie Christian and Cappie Pondexter of Marshall, Natasha Pointer of Whitney Young, Diana Vines of South Shore and Alicia Ratay of Lake Zurich.

Christian, Illinois' Player of the Year in 1983, led Marshall to four Final Four appearances in a row, including the state championship in 1982.

Pondexter, Illinois' Player of the Year in 2001, led Marshall to a state title in 1999. She recently was voted one of the top 15 players in the 15-year history of the WNBA.

Pointer, Illinois' Player of the Year in 1995, led her team to the state quarterfinals in 1995 and once scored 56 points in one game. She also played on a Final Four team at Rutgers.

Vines, an All-Stater in 1985, was the first city product to score more than 2,000 points in her career. She also was the first Chicago player to be recruited by legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.

Ratay ranks No. 13 on the state's all-time scoring list with 2,740 points from 1995 to 1999. Regarded as the best three-point shooter in state history, she led Notre Dame to the NCAA title.

Others who were considered were Allison Curtin, Taylorville; Michele Savage, IHM; Nancy Kennelly, Maine West; Connie Erickson, Niles West; Kim McQuarter, Tony Foster and Jennifer Jones, Marshall; Tauja Catchings, Stevenson; Terri Zemaitis, Downers Grove South; Shirley Joiner, Phillips; Carol Owens, Chicago Notre Dame; Bebe McBride, Senn; Sarah Kustok, Sandburg; and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, East St. Louis Lincoln.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

David Haugh, Jordan Cornette, Shae Peppler join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Mark Schanowski joins SportsTalk Live to discuss Kris Dunn’s sprained MCL, Fred Hoiberg’s tough luck and Zach LaVine postgame criticisms of the coaching. Plus they’ll discuss another 0-3 team- LeBron’s Lakers.

20:00 – The panel discusses Mitchell Trubisky’s performance vs. the Patriots. Jordan makes the case that the media is giving the former No. 2 pick a pass.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

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USA TODAY

Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

Through the opening week of the NBA season, Hornets' All-Star point guard Kemba Walker and former Bull Niko Mirotic share the league scoring lead, averaging 33 points per game.

Bulls' fans have seen these hot stretches from Niko before, and chances are he'll start moving down to the mid to high-teens before long. But Walker is a big-time scorer who's quietly emerged as one of the most consistently productive point guards in a league loaded with stars at that position. He's averaged over 20 points and 5 assists in each of the last three seasons, making the Eastern Conference All-Star team twice.

Last season, Walker lit up the Bulls for 47 points in an overtime loss at the United Center in November, making some of the most difficult shots you can imagine to keep his team in the game. He seems to be as this best when facing the Bulls and you can bet Fred Hoiberg and his staff will pull out all the stops to try to slow him down, especially with defensive ace Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left MCL in his season debut on Monday.

The Hornets made some personnel changes since last season. The one-year experiment with Dwight Howard at center is over. Howard put up solid numbers for Charlotte a year ago, but didn't make much difference in the win-loss column, so he's moved on to Washington in his NBA odyssey. Cody Zeller is now the starting center, backed up by Bismack Biyombo and former Benet Academy and University of Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky.

Charlotte tried to improve the athleticism on their roster by selecting Malik Monk and Miles Bridges in the first rounds of the last two drafts. Monk is getting more playing time this season, averaging 13.5 points in the Hornets' first four games. Bridges is averaging just under 16 minutes a game as a backup to starting forwards Marvin Williams and Nic Batum. Just like he did at Michigan State, Bridges is providing those highlight reel putback dunks, but it remains to be seen whether he'll develop a consistent enough outside shot to be a quality starter in the NBA.

The well-traveled Jeremy Lamb is now starting in the backcourt with Walker, and the Hornets brought in long-time Spurs' point guard Tony Parker to add some much needed experience and veteran savvy off the bench. Given the current state of the Eastern Conference (post-LeBron), it's not out of the question for this group to contend for one of the final playoff spots.

Here's what the Bulls need to do for a shot at their first win of the season. This also applies to the rematch in Charlotte on Friday.

1. CORRAL KEMBA. For whatever reason, seeing that Bulls' logo turns Walker into an almost unstoppable scoring machine. Walker is adept at working off his big men, either in straight pick and rolls or cutting through the post on give-and-go plays. He's one of the league's most creative scorers, and doesn't require much room to get his shot off. The Bulls' bigs will have to provide help on Walker whenever he comes off screens to keep him from taking over the game.

2. PUT THE BALL IN ZACH'S HANDS. Whether he's playing shooting guard or point guard, Zach LaVine needs to be the primary facilitator with Dunn sidelined. LaVine scored 34 points against Dallas Monday night on just 15 shots, which led to him questioning some of the offensive sets that were run in the 2nd half. LaVine told reporters on Tuesday that he smoothed things over with his head coach, explaining his comments were the result of the frustration he was feeling after a third-straight loss to open the season. Still, LaVine is on a major hot streak, joining Bulls' all-time greats Michael Jordan and Bob Love as the only players to start the year with three straight games scoring at least 30 points. The Bulls will need to ride that hot hand for as far as LaVine can carry them.

3. DEFEND THE 3-POINT LINE. You knew I would eventually get to this, right? Dallas made 15 of 47 3-point attempts on Monday after the Pistons knocked down 18 of 40 in a two-point win last Saturday. The Hornets have all kinds of capable 3-point shooters in Walker, Lamb, Monk, Batum and Williams (they're shooting .397 as a team on 3's), so guarding the arc will be crucial for the Bulls to have a chance at their first win.

Don’t forget you can catch Wednesday's game on NBC Sports Chicago and the new MyTeams by NBC sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 pm when Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Kelly Crull join me for Bulls Pregame Live from the United Center Atrium. Neil Funk and Stacey King have the play-by-play call at 7 pm, then stay tuned after the final buzzer for Bulls Postgame Live and the always entertaining Bulls Outsiders.