CHICAGO — Walk through the rotating doors outside Gate 4 at the United Center.
Take the elevator to the third floor.
Make an immediate left.
One quarter of the plush ballroom is full of circular tables bunched together, replete with white tablecloths and chairs pushed tightly together surrounding the tables.
The venue looks like it could host a high school prom with ease.
Instead on this day it hosts some of the most talented high school boys’ and girls’ basketball players in the country, there for McDonald’s All-American Media Day.
Including Jabari Parker.
But the jam-packed room isn’t, at the moment, paying attention to the Chicago Simeon standout, who was one of the last players to enter the room.
No one turned in awe or started taking photos of him with their cellphones when he ducked his 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame through the doorway.
Aaron Gordon is about to make his college decision. The buzz in the room is centered on the forward from Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) High School. Fine by Parker.
Four rows of media occupy the center of the room, not casting a glance past the assembled table Gordon will occupy in a few moments. Fine by Parker.
A bank of television cameras fills the last row, their light illuminating the room.
Fine by Parker.
Four hats — Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington — are lined up in front of Gordon, with their straight bills and graphic designs laid out in precise order.
Gordon picks up the Arizona hat, puts it on and declares he’ll play his college basketball in Tucson. The media ask their assorted questions, with the attention squarely on Gordon. Fine by Parker.
Parker watches all this from the table farthest away from the announcement. He claps politely — three short golf claps — and ducks his head down, where his thumbs are busily working out his smartphone.
The yellow laces are untied on his black, red and yellow adidas tennis shoes, which match the standard black and red warmups all the players are wearing. After he is done browsing his phone and once Gordon’s news conference ends, he plays with the tuft of facial hair he’s trying to grow on his chin. He stands up, both hands on the backpack he’s strapped over both his shoulders and walks precisely out the double doors that are open just outside Section 209 and 210 at the United Center.
Once his feet hit the gray carpet outside the ballroom, the attention turns back to Parker, the best high school basketball player since LeBron James.
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Or so said the cover of the May 21, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated.
The label bestowed upon Parker, a Duke recruit and the 2013 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year, last spring, however, didn’t do him any favors, according to ESPN senior recruiting analyst Dave Telep.
“In the grassroots community, the people who know him and have watched him play, no one said this is the next LeBron,” Telep said. “It could have been a disaster, or he could have handled it the way he did. That was too much for one guy to bear the burden. I didn’t think it was a fair headline, but he just kind of put it in the rearview mirror.”
Parker is an elite player. No doubt about it.
He is only the third player to receive The News-Gazette’s Player of the Year honor twice in the 31 years of the award (Jon Scheyer of Glenbrook North in 2005 and 2006 and Jamie Brandon of Chicago King in 1989 and 1990 are the other two). He is also the only two-time recipient of the Mr. Basketball award given to the top Illinois boys’ basketball player in its 33-year history.
“He makes the spectacular seem routine,” said Mike Flaherty, the head coach at Chicago Mount Carmel who coached Parker’s West squad in the McDonald’s All-American Game and saw his team’s 2012-13 season end against Simeon in a regional semifinal. “Some of his tip dunks and his shot creation, those are things that separate him from the other elite guys.”
Consider the effect Parker has had for a moment, and it’s not so hard to dismiss the comparison to James.
During his senior season, Parker and Simeon accomplished the following:
— Four games televised on ESPN’s family of networks.
— Ten games played in college venues.
— Seven games against out-of-state opponents.
— Traveled more than 5,500 miles to games by bus and airplane.
— Had the state’s largest newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, follow them at every practice and every game.
“The thing that was intriguing to me that when I came up with this whole idea was that traditionally Simeon players have never been allowed to talk to the media,” said Paul Skrbina, the high school sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve covered Jabari since he was a freshman, and we haven’t gotten very much access to him. It remains to be seen whether Jabari’s the best player to ever come out of the state of Illinois. He’s certainly the most decorated player to ever come out of the state of Illinois, and we wanted to document that.”
— And, most impressively, won a fourth straight Class 4A state championship, defeating Stevenson 58-40 on March 16 at Carver Arena in Peoria.
“What I like the most about Jabari is the fact that he’s undefeated in state championship games,” Telep said. “In Chicago and the rest of Illinois, it seems people are almost desensitized to how much he’s won, but to think that a guy has won four state championships in Illinois is pretty remarkable.”
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Sitting in a chair against the wall just outside the ballroom at the United Center, Parker doesn’t have many free moments during media day. He had just completed a quick one-on-one interview before he was hurried off for a television interview and then brought back to the spot arranged for him against the wall. During the 90-minute media session, Parker clearly has the most consistent stream of people wanting to talk to him, snap a photo with him or shake his hand.
A few other players, like Andrew Wiggins, one of the top uncommitted players in the Class of 2013, and Julius Randle, a Kentucky commit, might have more reporters surrounding them at various junctures but not the steady procession Parker has to face.
He has two media handlers who usher in the next wave of reporters and keep media members who want to talk to him informed of when they can.
On this day, despite those close to Parker who emphasize he is just like a normal 18-year-old kid, he’s far from normal.
“I just have fun with it,” Parker said. “I don’t let a lot of the media’s praise or criticism blind me from what’s most important, and that’s just the love of the game. I’m using basketball as a tool. I love the fact that I’m getting a chance to go to college for free and don’t give my parents that burden to pay off my expenses.”
Parker committed to Duke on Dec. 20 during a news conference at Simeon that was televised live by ESPNU.
Parker hasn’t signed yet with the Blue Devils and said he has no plans to do so until the last possible day, which is May 15.
“That’s what a friend gave me advice on,” Parker said with a simple shrug before he moves on to the next question thrown his way.
¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶
Well before Parker grew into his body, well before Parker said he would attend Duke, well before Parker became a McDonald’s All-American, well before Parker won two gold medals with USA Basketball and well before Parker slipped on a blue-and-yellow Simeon jersey, there was this moment.
Sixth grade. City playoffs. Simeon High School.
Parker’s Robert A. Black Magnet School team was playing in the championship game.
But his team lost. The opponent and score is insignificant seven years later.
The scene following the loss, however, isn’t. At least from the viewpoint of Rob Smith, Simeon’s coach, who was watching that day.
“He probably had 25 points and I don’t know how many rebounds, but after the loss, he went in the corner of the gym and started crying,” Smith said. “I just walked up to him and said, ‘You did everything you could possibly do for your team to win. That’s all you can ask of yourself.’ He turned and looked at me and said, ‘Obviously I didn’t do enough because we lost.’ That’s when I was like, ‘Whoa, this kid could be special.’ ”
Just how special, though, wouldn’t fully matriculate until a few years later. The hype and buzz was considerable surrounding Parker before he even played a game at Simeon.
“You always worry about these young phenoms,” said Joe Henricksen, the publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, “but you didn’t think he would ever be a flameout.”
He proved he wouldn’t. Parker amassed 2,003 points, 906 rebounds and 413 assists during his four seasons with the Wolverines, which resulted in a 118-15 record.
Not too shabby.
“What really stands out about Jabari is the balance to his game,” Telep said. “From the mental side to the physical side to the way he plays in the post and on the perimeter, it’s all impressive. There may be some guys who are better shooters and better athletes, but I don’t know if somebody has quite the entire package he has.”
¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶
Colleen Kane and Mike Helfgot attended every Simeon practice this season. Every Simeon game.
The Chicago Tribune reporters had the task of covering the Wolverines all season.
Skrbina and Kane broached the topic with Smith before the season, not quite knowing what to expect from a program well-known for its strict access to players under former coach Bob Hambric.
“We weren’t sure how he was going to feel about it, so we went and talked to him about it, and he said, ‘Yeah, sure,’ ” Kane said. “We said, ‘We’ll be there every day’ and wrote a story every day. It was a lot of time with them.”
Time focused not just on Parker, but also in having the last reserve on the bench getting interviewed and having stories written about.
But time that most likely would not have happened if not for Parker, even with Illinois signees Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate, along with Dayton signee Kendall Pollard, on Simeon’s roster.
“People say he’s the most covered player to ever come out of Chicago,” Kane said. “I went with them on all their trips, and everywhere we went there were people trying to talk to him. Just the announcement that he was going to announce his college decision was a huge deal. He would always have little kids running around following him, looking for autographs.”
Simeon has had notable players in its past.
Ben Wilson. Nick Anderson. Deon Thomas. Bryant Notree. Kevin Turner. Bobby Simmons. Calvin Brock. Steve Taylor.
And, of course, Derrick Rose. The Chicago Bulls guard and 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player suited up for Smith, winning Class AA state titles with Simeon in 2006 and 2007. Yet Smith acknowledges Parker is probably more well-known at this point in his basketball career than Rose was.
“That’s solely because of social media, though,” Smith said. “When Derrick was in high school, social media had just started. He could have been just as big as Jabari is now. Everybody gets a chance to see Jabari with all that is out there with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Derrick didn’t have that luxury.”
The effect Parker has on Chicago goes beyond basketball.
“He’s got a lot of star power,” Notre Dame signee Demetrius Jackson said. “He challenged me to a game of pingpong (this past week), and he lost, but I think he still likes me. He’s a great guy, and he does it the right way. I hope the best for him. Guys like that, you can really appreciate.”
Skrbina said it’s no coincidence the United Center has hosted the last three McDonald’s All-American Games and plans to do so through 2015. Since the game started in 1978, no venue has hosted it more than once except the United Center. Skrbina attended the 2010 game at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, where he estimated maybe five or six media members attended media day festivities compared with the hundreds that turned out this year, with many to get a glimpse of Parker.
“Anybody that knows Jabari knows he can make everybody in the room smile,” said Matt Jones, a guard from DeSoto (Texas) High School who will play with Parker at Duke next season. “Just seeing how much his fans love him is overwhelming to see.”
¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶
Henricksen has seen hundreds upon hundreds of high school basketball games in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs in the last 25 years.
He easily puts Parker in the top five prep players Illinois has produced in that span, throwing Parker’s name in with the likes of Rose, Scheyer and Kevin Garnett.
“At his size, he literally can play anywhere on the floor,” Henricksen said. “Even with some of the great players that have come through Illinois, they didn’t have that versatile skill set where they can pass the ball, handle the ball and make those around him better. I just think that versatility is the one unique characteristic that sets him apart from a lot of the great ones.”
Just don’t expect Parker to tout his own abilities on Twitter. A popular choice of many prospects these days, the tweets Parker (@JabariParker22) sends out won’t incite any message board discussions.
“He’s really self-aware, and he’s going to do right for the next guys to come through,” Telep said. “A lot of guys, their Twitter personality doesn’t match who they really are. That’s not the case with Jabari.”
He has plenty of followers (41,183 as of Wednesday afternoon. For comparison’s sake, Nunn’s Twitter account, @KNunnSG, and Tate’s Twitter account, @JayTate_1, had just under 9,000 combined followers as of Wednesday afternoon) — that will likely grow in the next few years if his basketball career continues to rise. But he only has posted 193 tweets through the middle of last week, and none are retweets about any of his basketball highlights.
“What’s up with this new Harlem shake?” Parker tweeted Feb. 25. “I don’t remember this! I remember some rhythm, throwbacks, with special delivery... I was hitting it!”
That’s about the extent of personality Parker will offer up on Twitter.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Parker isn’t a popular topic of conversation on Twitter.
“He can go to the bathroom, and before you know it, it’ll be on Twitter,” said Sonny Parker, Jabari’s father, with a slight laugh. “The social media people have these days, everything is documented and recorded.”
One can sense from talking to Jabari Parker, however briefly, that he has a clear vision of what his future can become. The words flow easily out of his mouth, yet he doesn’t reveal too much.
“He’s genuine, but very well-trained in dealing with the media and saying the right thing,” Skrbina said. “In a way, I kind of feel bad for him. It’s got to be tough being him. He’s been on stage with the first lady and knows the mayor (of Chicago), but none of that stuff matters to him. He has not one ounce of ego in him outwardly. I think he has a lot of ego inwardly. He’s a lot like Derrick Rose.”
¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶
Parker mentions Rose as his role model. His Twitter profile photo is one of Rose and himself, back when Jabari was a chubby middle-school student.
“I look up to that man so much,” Parker said. “He’s come from almost the same neighborhood and how he’s been able to succeed with his work ethic shows how really diligent he is.”
Parker said he, along with other top Chicago prospects like Nunn, Tate, Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander, among others, understand they’re looked at in ways just beyond what they do on a basketball court.
“We try to represent the city as much as possible, especially in a positive way,” Parker said. “I know the news really illuminates Chicago as being real negative and a city with violence.”
Parker is fully healthy these days, having recovered from a broken right foot he suffered last summer playing at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Lithuania.
“I can’t give myself an excuse no more,” he said with a laugh. “I’m feeling real good.”
Those close to Parker say the injury helped motivate him more his senior season.
“A lot of people doubted he wasn’t going to be back to where he was,” Sonny Parker said. “It took some time. He was idle for over five months. He couldn’t do anything because he had that boot on.”
Another bit of inspiration, according to Smith, came after the Chicago Sun-Times named Okafor its Player of the Year at the end of February. Okafor, the junior center from Chicago Whitney Young, is the consensus top player in the Class of 2014, but Parker scored a game-high 29 points and had 13 rebounds while Okafor had 13 points and five rebounds when the two teams met for the Argo Sectional title March 8, a game Simeon won 69-51.
“I think that kind of did bother him when they gave that award to Okafor,” Smith said. “Jabari was thinking, ‘But you guys know I was hurt, yet I had no consideration of it, so I’m going to prove to (you) all. They will have their time to be good, but this is still my time.’ ”
A time that continued to flourish at the state tournament in Peoria, where Parker averaged 20 points and 11.5 rebounds at Carver Arena.
“He took over the state tournament,” Simeon assistant coach Marlo Finner said. “It was totally gratifying.”
His high school career in Illinois is finished now. For Parker, though, his basketball career is nowhere close to fully complete. He’ll likely get a chance to crack Duke’s starting lineup next season with Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry all gone.
How long he stays in Durham, N.C., could become a talking point at this point next year, based on how Parker’s freshman season goes.
Depending on what decision Parker makes in regards to a possible mission trip because of his Mormon faith, he might arrive back at the United Center soon. Only as an NBA player, not as a high school senior whose place in Illinois basketball history is set.
“He has that child mentality as well where he acts silly and still watches cartoons and pulls pranks,” Smith said. “He’s a typical 18-year-old kid in that sense, but when you get him on the basketball court, he’s like a man. There’s no question Jabari is the No. 1 player in the country.”
N-G BOYS' BASKETBALL ALL-STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
YEAR NAME SCHOOL
2013 Jabari Parker Chicago Simeon
2012 Jabari Parker Chicago Simeon
2011 Chasson Randle Rock Island
2010 Rayvonte Rice Centennial
2009 Jereme Richmond Waukegan
2008 Lewis Jackson Decatur Eisenhower
2007 Derrick Rose Chicago Simeon
2006 Jon Scheyer Glenbrook North
2005 Jon Scheyer Glenbrook North
2004 Shaun Livingston Peoria Central
2003 Shannon Brown Proviso East
2002 Dee Brown Proviso East
2001 Eddy Curry Thornwood
2000 Darius Miles East St. Louis
1999 Brian Cook Lincoln
1998 Quentin Richardson Chicago Young
1997 Sergio McClain Peoria Manual
1996 Ronnie Fields Chicago Farragut
1995 Kevin Garnett Chicago Farragut
1994 Antoine Walker Chicago Mount Carmel
1993 Rashard Griffith Chicago King
1992 Chris Collins Glenbrook North
1991 Howard Nathan Peoria Manual
1990 Jamie Brandon Chicago King
1989 Jamie Brandon Chicago King
1988 LaPhonso Ellis East St. Louis Lincoln
1987 Marcus Liberty Chicago King
1986 Nick Anderson Chicago Simeon
Larry Smith Alton
1985 Ed Horton Springfield Lanphier
1984 Roger McClendon Centennial
1983 Marty Simmons Lawrenceville
Getting to know ... Jabari Parker
A few of my favorite things: Jesse Owens ... Jim Carrey ... Literature ... “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ... “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” ... Subway ... Any old-school luxury car
Pet peeve: Being too close to people in awkward situations.
Three things on my bucket list: Go to Australia, perform community service in Africa and to find a lost civilization
Three people I’d like to dine with: Martin Luther King Jr., John Wooden and Abraham Lincoln
College plans: Attend Duke
NAME SCHOOL HT. YR. POS. COMMENT
Cliff Alexander Chicago Curie 6-9 Jr. C Uncommitted, averaged 21.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.0 blocks for a 19-8 team; ranked fourth nationally among Class of 2014 athletes
Keita Bates-Diop Normal U-High 6-7 Jr. F Ohio State recruit averaged 18.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 blocks for a 22-6 team that was repeat Corn Belt champs
Sterling Brown Proviso East 6-5 Sr. G/F SMU recruit, a repeat selection, was top rebounder (10.9) and No. 2 scorer (12.8 ppg) for a 29-5 team that placed fourth in Class 4A
Jalen Brunson Stevenson 6-1 So. G Uncommitted, averaged team-high 21.8 points, set school record for points in a season (689) for 29-5 team that placed second in Class 4A
David Cohn Elmhurst York 6-2 Sr. G Colorado State recruit averaged 17.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists for 22-8 team; second on school’s career scoring charts (1,640)
Garret Covington Edwardsville 6-3 Sr. G Western Illinois recruit was the top scorer and knocked down 105 three-pointers for a 31-3 team that placed third in Class 4A
Alvin Ellis De La Salle 6-3 Sr. G Minnesota recruit averaged 20.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game for a 17-8 team; scored 1,079 career points
Billy Garrett Jr. Morgan Park 6-0 Sr. G DePaul recruit, a repeat selection, was top scorer (17.4 ppg) and three-point shooter (72 treys) for 33-3 team that won 3A state title
Malcolm Hill Belleville East 6-7 Sr. G/F Illinois recruit is a repeat selection who set school record for career scoring (2,004 points); averaged 25.3 points as senior for 24-4 team
Keenan Minor Cahokia 6-2 Sr. G Uncommitted, was the top scorer (21.2 ppg) and three-point shooter (101 treys) for 33-4 team that placed second in Class 3A
Kendrick Nunn Simeon 6-2 Sr. G Illinois recruit, a repeat pick, was second in scoring (14.7 ppg) and first in three-point shooting (46) for 30-3 team that won 4A state title
Jahlil Okafor Chicago Young 6-11 Jr. C Uncommitted, repeat selection was state runner-up in Mr. Basketball voting, averaged 20.7 points, 8.8 rebounds for a 27-4 team
Jabari Parker Simeon 6-9 Sr. F Duke recruit is repeat Player of Year and state’s first two-time Mr. Basketball. Top scorer (18.4) and rebounder (10.4) on 30-3 4A champs
Tyler Ulis Chicago Hts. Marian 5-8 Jr. G Uncommitted, top scorer (21.9 average) and assist leader (3.7) for 29-4 team; set school’s season (693) and career (1,612) scoring records
Milik Yarbrough Zion-Benton 6-6 Jr. F Uncommitted, averaged 21.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game for 25-6 team. Has school-record 1,984 career points
NAME SCHOOL HT. YR. POS. COMMENT
Peyton Allen Chatham Glenwood 6-4 Jr. G Uncommitted, averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists for a 23-11 team; stands third in school history in scoring (1,274 points)
Larry Austin Jr. Springfield Lanphier 6-2 Jr. G Uncommitted, averaged 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.6 steals per game (all of which led the Lions) for a 15-12 team
Kyle Davis Morgan Park 6-0 Sr. G Dayton recruit was second in scoring (13.8 ppg) and second in three-point shooting (40 treys) for 33-3 team that won Class 3A state title
Michael Finke Centennial 6-9 Jr. F Illinois recruit and N-G All-Area Player of the Year, averaged team-high 16.6 points, 7.6 rebounds for 22-9 team that reached 3A Sweet 16
Tre Harris Edwardsville 6-3 Sr. G Uncommitted, was second in scoring (17.0), rebounding (9.1) and three-point shooting (66 treys) for 31-3 team that placed third in 4A
Paris Lee Proviso East 5-10 Sr. G Illinois State recruit led team in assists (5.1) and was second with 47 threes for 29-5 team that placed fourth in Class 4A; averaged 13.6 ppg
Deshawn Munson East St. Louis 6-4 Sr. G Uncommitted, averaged 17.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 8.3 assists. Had 12 triple-doubles and amassed more than 1,500 career points
Malachi Nix Niles North 5-7 Sr. G Uncommitted, averaged 17.9 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 steals per game. Set school record with 1,542 career points
Alec Peters Washington 6-8 Sr. F Valparaiso recruit averaged 22.6 points, 9.0 rebounds. Scored 1,471 career points and was an 82 percent free throw shooter on varsity
Miles Simelton Oswego 6-1 Sr. G Lehigh recruit averaged 18.7 points, 3.8 assists for school-record-setting 28-win team. Second all time at Oswego with 1,558 career points
Tyler Smithpeters Harrisburg 6-4 Sr. G Uncommitted, top scorer (17.5), three-point shooter (57 treys) and assist leader (5.4) for 33-1 team that won the Class 2A state title
Nathan Taphorn Pekin 6-7 Sr. F Northwestern recruit averaged 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds for 19-8 team; finished 12th on school’s career scoring chart (1.021 points)
Jaylon Tate Simeon 6-2 Sr. G Illinois recruit was team leader in assists (7.3 per game) for 30-3 team that won the Class 4A state title; averaged 8.3 points per game
Mark Weems Jr. Seton Academy 6-2 Sr. G Uncommitted, top scorer (17.4 ppg) and No. 2 in assists (2.9) and rebounds (4.4) for 22-11 team that placed second in Class 2A
Paul White Chicago Young 6-9 Jr. F Uncommitted, averaged 13.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and hit 28 three-pointers for 27-4 team. Shot 52.3 percent from the field
Special Mention 50
NAME SCHOOL HT. YR. POS.
Jubril Adekoya Tinley Park Andrew 6-6 Sr. F
Brett Anderson Newark 6-4 Sr. F
Darius Austin Cahokia 6-7 Jr. G
Juozas Balciumas Lemont 6-1 Sr. G
Marcus Bartley Decatur MacArthur 6-3 Jr. G
Marquis Borney Madison 6-2 Sr. G
Isaiah Box Rockford East 6-1 Sr. G
Jared Brownridge Waubonsie Valley 6-2 Sr. G
Joe Byers Belvidere 6-3 Jr. G
C.J. Carr Rock Island 5-7 Jr. G
Max Cook Lincoln 6-2 Jr. G
Steven Cook New Trier 6-4 Sr. F
Andrew Drone Gallatin County 6-11 Sr. C
Morris Dunnigan Joliet West 6-2 Sr. G
Jared Entwistle Illini Central 5-11 Sr. G
Alex Fitch Quincy Notre Dame 6-3 Sr. F
Grant Gibson Galesburg 6-2 So. G/F
Tyquone Greer Chicago Orr 6-7 Jr. F
Ethan Happ Rockridge 6-7 Jr. F
Paxton Harmon West Hancock 6-4 Sr. G
Cole Hasselbring Cissna Park 6-4 Sr. F
Martel Hunter Monmouth Roseville 6-1 Jr. G
Branden Jenkins Proviso East 6-2 Sr. G
Jacob Johnston Erie 6-4 Sr. G/F
Mike Ljuboa Riverside-Brookfield 6-7 Sr. F
Alex Majewski Brother Rice 6-7 Sr. F
Hank Mathews Bartonville Limestone 6-2 Sr. F
Josh McAuley West Aurora 6-7 Sr. F/C
Andrew McAuliffe Glenbrook North 6-8 Sr. C
Johnny McCray East St. Louis 6-4 Sr. F
Elliott McGaughy Oswego 6-3 `Sr. G
L.J. McIntosh Chicago Marist 6-1 Sr. G
Matt Mooney Niles Notre Dame 6-4 Sr. G/F
Jovon Mooring Hillcrest 6-1 Sr. G
Sean O’Brien Mundelein 6-7 Sr. F
Sean O’Mara Lisle Benet 6-9 Jr. C
A.J. Patty Westchester St. Joseph 6-8 Sr. F
L.J. Peak Chicago Young 6-5 Jr. G
Devantae Price Tamms 6-1 Sr. G
A.J. Riley Niles Notre Dame 6-2 Sr. G
Brady Sanders Fieldcrest 6-1 Sr. G
Jabari Sandifer Neuqua Valley 6-1 Sr. G
Brent Schluter St. Joseph-Ogden 6-3 Jr. F
Herman Senor Springfield Southeast 5-11 Sr. G
Terrence Shelby Bartonville Limestone 6-3 Jr. G
Khalil Small Providence St. Mel 6-2 Sr. G
Denzel Smith Danville 6-6 Jr. C
Jens Soderholm LaSalle-Peru 6-4 Sr. G/F
Kendall Stephens St. Charles East 6-5 Sr. G
Carl White Chicago Foreman 6-5 Sr. F
Honorable Mention 75
NAME SCHOOL HT. YR. POS.
Shaquon Alexander Hales Franciscan 6-2 Sr. G
JaVairius Amos-Mays North Chicago 6-4 Jr. G
Steven Armoska Rock Falls 6-4 Sr. F
Ore Arogundade St. Viator 6-3 Jr. G
Cullen Barr Carmel 6-6 Sr. F
Gavin Block Lincoln 6-5 So. F
Dedric Byrd Centennial 5-9 Jr. G
Jevon Carter Proviso East 6-1 Jr. G
Connor Cashaw Stevenson 6-3 So. G
Josh Cunningham Morgan Park 6-7 Jr. F
Armon Fletcher Edwardsville 6-5 Jr. F
Alex Foster Seton Academy 6-8 Sr. F/C
Brody Gronewold Illini West 6-2 Sr. G
Kurt Hall North Chicago 6-6 Jr. G
Malek Harris Sandburg 6-7 Jr. F
Jalen Henry Springfield Southeast 6-8 Jr. C
Capel Henshaw Harrisburg 6-3 Sr. G
Cody Hildebrand Payson Seymour 6-0 Jr. G
Maurius Hill Homewood-Flossmoor 6-5 Sr. F
Vincent Jackson Jr. Cahokia 6-6 Sr. F
Marlon Jones Chicago Orr 6-8 Jr. F
Andrew Kimball Wheaton St. Francis 6-1 Sr. G
Tevon King Providence St. Mel 6-1 Jr. G
Martin Kvitle Quincy 6-3 Sr. G
Kevin Kozan New Lenox Providence 6-2 Sr. G
Victor Law St. Rita 6-7 Jr. F
Ronald Lawton Rich East 6-6 Sr. G/F
Phillip Lee Hyde Park 6-1 Sr. G
Erick Locke Oak Park-River Forest 6-0 Jr. G
JayQuan McCloud North Chicago 6-4 Jr. G
Jamaal McDavis Bloomington 6-2 Sr. G
Jamal McDowell Chicago Orr 5-11 Sr. G
Donald McKinley Urbana 6-1 Sr. G
Ethan Miller Charleston 6-2 Sr. G/F
Ben Moore Bolingbrook 6-8 Sr. F
Langdon Neal Chicago Parker 6-1 Sr. G
Chase Patton St. Joseph-Ogden 6-3 Sr. G
Devontavius Payne Carbondale 6-1 Jr. G
Quentin Payne St. Charles North 6-4 Sr. G
Josh Peak Jacksonville 6-4 Sr. F
Kendall Pollard Simeon 6-5 Sr. G/F
Jacoby Posley Winnebago 6-0 Sr. G
Makur Puou Mooseheart 6-9 Jr. F/C
Darreon Reddick Belleville East 6-2 Jr. G
Matt Reinke Winnebago 6-4 Sr. G
Nic Reynolds Peoria Notre Dame 6-2 Sr. G
Matt Rosenwinkel Rochelle 6-2 Sr. G
Shawn Roundtree Edwardsville 6-0 Jr. G
Terrence Sardin Chicago Perspectives 6-8 Sr. F
Bodee Schlipf El Paso-Gridley 6-4 Sr. F
Tyler Schuring Arthur-Lovington 5-11 So. F
Dalton Shaner Lanark Eastland 6-1 Jr. G
Kamal Shasi Seton Academy 6-2 Sr. G
Aaron Siler Robinson 5-11 Sr. G
Derek Smith Teutopolis 6-3 Sr. G
Trayvon Smith Monmouth Roseville 6-6 Jr. C
Kendall Stephens St. Charles East 6-5 Sr. G
Nick Stokowski Monticello 6-2 Jr. G
Brock Stull Rockford Boylan 6-4 Jr. G
Max Stutsman Salt Fork 6-4 Jr. C
John Taylor Heritage 6-5 Sr. C
Moshawn Thomas Hyde Park 6-7 Sr. F
Jacob Timmerman Breese Central 6-0 Jr. G
Nick Van Osdale Belleville West 6-2 Sr. G
Justin Vanwambeke Machesney Park Harlem 6-2 Sr. G
Jontrel Walker West Aurora 6-0 Jr. G
Jeremy Weeke Okawville 6-4 Sr. G/F
Preston Wells Peoria Richwoods 6-0 Sr. G
Lance Whitaker Bartlett 6-3 Sr. G
Falando Wilkinson Collinsville 6-2 Sr. G
Arie Williams Elgin 5-9 Sr. G
Brandon Wolfe Casey-Westfield 6-3 Jr. F
Russell Woods Simeon 6-7 Sr. F/C
Devon Wright Nokomis 6-1 Sr. C
Andrew Zelis Wheaton North
The Nifty Fifty
Chicago Simeon’s Jabari Parker stood out as the premier high school boys’ basketball player in Illinois this past winter. A look at the Gatorade Player of the Year from each state:
State Player Yr. School College
Alabama Josh Langford Fr. Madison Academy Undecided
Alaska Adam Klie Sr. Service High Undecided
Arizona Casey Benson Jr. Corona del Sol High Undecided
Arkansas Bobby Portis Sr. Hall High Arkansas
California Roschon Prince Sr. Long Beach Poly High USC
Colorado Dominique Collier Jr. East High Undecided
Connecticut Kurt Steidl Sr. Ridgefield High Vermont
Delaware Sabri Thompson Sr. Sanford Northwestern State
Florida Joel Berry Jr. Lake Highland Prep North Carolina
Georgia Brannen Greene Sr. Tift County High Kansas
Hawaii Joshua Ko Sr. Kalaheo High Undecided
Idaho Isaiah Wright Jr. Borah High Undecided
Indiana Zak Irvin Sr. Hamilton Southeastern High Michigan
Iowa Jeremy Morgan Sr. Iowa City West High Northern Iowa
Kansas Semi Ojeleye Sr. Ottawa High Duke
Kentucky Dominique Hawkins Sr. Madison Central High Undecided
Louisiana Trey Touchet Jr. St. Thomas More High Undecided
Maine Garet Beal Sr. Jonesport-Beals High Maine
Maryland Marquis Wright Sr. North Point High Loyola (Md.)
Massachusetts Tyler Gibson Sr. Rockland High Massachusetts-Lowell
Michigan Derrick Walton Jr. Sr. Chandler Park Academy Michigan
Minnesota Tyus Jones Jr. Apple Valley High Undecided
Mississippi Devin Booker Jr. Moss Point High Undecided
Missouri Kyle Wolf Sr. Rockhurst High Undecided
Montana Daine Muller Sr. Skyview High Undecided
Nebraska Josiah Gustafson Sr. Millard North High Pittsburg State
Nevada Marcus Allen Sr. Centennial High Stanford
New Hampshire Eric Gendron Jr. Merrimack High Undecided
New Jersey Karl Towns Jr. Jr. St. Joseph High Kentucky
New Mexico Bryce Alford Sr. La Cueva High UCLA
New York Kentan Facey Sr. Long Island Lutheran High Connecticut
North Carolina Isaiah Hicks Sr. J.F. Webb High North Carolina
North Dakota A.J. Jacobson Sr. Shanley High North Dakota State
Ohio Jack Gibbs Sr. Westerville North High Davidson
Oklahoma Stephen Clark Sr. Douglass High Oklahoma State
Oregon Calvin Hermanson Sr. Lake Oswego Saint Mary’s
Pennsylvania Steve Vasturia Sr. St. Joseph’s Prep Notre Dame
Rhode Island Bonzie Colson Jr. St. Andrew’s Undecided
South Carolina Justin McKie Sr. Irmo High South Carolina
South Dakota Zach Hanson Sr. T.F. Riggs High Creighton
Tennessee Austin Nichols Sr. Briarcrest Christian Memphis
Texas Justise Winslow Jr. St. John’s Undecided
Utah Nick Emery Sr. Lone Peak High BYU
Vermont Matt St. Amour Sr. Missisquoi High Undecided
Virginia Troy Williams Sr. Oak Hill Academy Indiana
Washington Jason Todd Jr. Henry M. Jackson High Undecided
West Virginia Andrew Wiggins Sr. Huntington Prep Undecided
Wisconsin Luke Fischer Sr. Germantown High Indiana
Wyoming Cody Kelley Jr. Campbell County High Undecided