Going, going, gone

Going, going, gone

Last week, Simeon product Jabari Parker was selected second overall in the NBA draft, joining fellow Chicago Public League greats Derrick Rose (No. 1, 2008) and Anthony Davis (No. 1, 2011) as players from that league to be selected in the top three of the draft in the last seven years.

If you include Chicago’s Evan Turner (No. 2, 2010), a product of Catholic League power Westchester St. Joseph, that makes four players from Chicago selected in the top three of the NBA draft.

None of them, however, played their college ball in Illinois. Rose played at Memphis, Davis at Kentucky, Turner at Ohio State and Parker at Duke.

The basketball being played in Chicago and across the state in recent years is on par with the great teams and players from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. He believes it’s time that the players started giving Illinois and the other state schools a harder look.

“We have to change our mindsets a little bit so kids can see that we have some great institutions here as well — academically and athletically,” said Smith, who has led Simeon to six state championships during his 10 years at the Public League power. “Once guys start to understand that our institutions are just as good as any of the others, I think kids should be looking at the state schools like the University of Illinois and not just the Kansases and Dukes.”

The Chicago pipeline to the NBA is likely to continue next year when big men Jahlil Okafor (Duke) and Cliff Alexander (Kansas) finish their freshman years. Okafor, The News-Gazette’s All-State Player of the Year from Whitney Young and Alexander, an All-State pick from Curie, are projected to be picked in the top three of the 2015 NBA draft should they declare.

“The sky’s the limit for guys from Chicago, next year is another great opportunity to show that,” Smith said. “I think people are starting to really see basketball here in the Public League. I’m for the whole state when it comes down to it. I want everybody in the state to do well.

“But I really root for them all when they get to college because it makes our state, our city look good.”

Smith maintains that the decision on where to play college basketball is ultimately left up to the players and their families, but in his role as an adviser, he makes an effort to push schools in the state. Two Simeon players, Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn are currently on the Illinois roster and another one, D.J. Williams, is on the way in 2015.

According to Smith, John Groce and his staff have done their part in reaching out to the state’s top prospects and closing the gap in making Illinois an attractive destination.

“I think they’ve done an unbelievable job. I think Coach (Bruce) Weber and his staff did a great job, too. We just have to change the way we think in the city,” Smith said. “It’s always sweeter if you could win at home, in your state and bring a national championship back to your hometown.”

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PortlandIllini wrote on July 04, 2014 at 9:07 am

In my opinion,  Chicago does not  consider itself to be part of the State of Illinois.   People in Chicago consider themselves part of a world class city filled with amazing architecture, international corporations,  professional sports,  influential politicians,  and famous stars.    According to them,  the rest of the state is filled wth cornfields, cows, country music,  and local yokels.      If you're a high school athlete,  why settle for going to college in middle of the sticks?  

That's why these kids feel they 'represent Chicago",   not Illinois.    

First order of business for the UI administration is to strengthen the relationship between the University and the people of the State of lllinois.   They need to make the University a source of pride for the state.  Yes, that includes Cook County

Moonpie wrote on July 04, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Well said, Portlandillini, but the Gazoo cheerleader sportswriters insist on pretending that UI isn't in the middle of nowhere, and to overcompensate for feelings of inadequacy, they pretend to be covering big time sports and create a villain -- Chicago -- to distract readers from reality. Tate fears what's beyond the corn-lined horizon, what's beyond his narrow views and narrow vision. It's Tea Party sports among the corn and soybeans.

illinitar66 wrote on July 04, 2014 at 8:07 pm

And Lawrence, KS and Lexington KY are much different than Champaign.  At least Champaign is a quick ride away from a "World Class" city

PortlandIllini wrote on July 05, 2014 at 10:07 am


Sorry,  you missed the point.   The folks in Kansas City consider themselves to be Kansans,  the people in Portland consider themselves to be Oregonians,  the residents of Cincinnati are Buckeyes,  the citizens of Indianapolis are Hoosiers, even the folks in Louisville call themselves Kentuckians.   And they all support their state school irrespective of its location 

The people of the great city of Chicago do not identify themselves with the State of Illinois.    Therefore,  they don't feel any allegiance to the University of Illinois.

Once you leave Chicago,  it doesn't matter whether you land in Bloomington,  Lawrence,  East Lansing,   Champaign, South Bend, Norman,  Baton Rouge,  Tuscaloosa,  Lexington,   or Eugene   You just pick the school that advances your career.   

KCILLINI wrote on July 05, 2014 at 11:07 am

Agree with most of what you said except that most people in Kansas City consider themselves to be Missourians - since that is where the city is located (smile).  Both the Royals and Chiefs play ball in MO.