Shawn Harrington has dreamed about only one thing since shielding his daughter from gunfire, being shot twice and suffering a spinal injury which left him paralyzed last month.

The dreams aren't about the two offenders who mistook Harrington's car for someone else's while Harrington drove his daughter to school on Chicago's West Side on the morning of Jan. 30. The dreams aren't about the bullet that was found in his teenage daughter's headrest afterward. The dreams aren't about how he has months of rehabilitation ahead of him, and there's no guarantee he will ever walk again.

No, Harrington's dreams have been about basketball.

"God has put me in a good place, accepted what happened," the 38-year-old Harrington said in a phone interview from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago on Friday. "I'm not sure what his mission for me is in all this, but the fact is it happened and I've been able to move forward. I don't dwell on it all. I haven't had any depression. I haven't had any nightmares or dreams about that day. All my dreams have been about basketball."

As strange as that would be to most, that actually wouldn't surprise anyone who knows Harrington. He's had a love for the game his entire life. He was a star point guard at Marshall High School on the West Side, played at New Mexico State and is currently an assistant basketball coach at Marshall. He also works at the school as a classroom aide for special education students.

Harrington planned to reach back to what made him an elite basketball player and use that to help him walk again.

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Curie's Alexander doesn't wait, signs with Kansas

November, 16, 2013
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Chicago Curie senior power forward Cliff Alexander signed and faxed his letter of intent to Kansas on Saturday, according to a source.

Alexander, ESPN’s No. 3-ranked senior prospect, verbally committed to the Jayhawks over DePaul, Illinois and Memphis on ESPNU on Friday, but he said he likely wouldn’t sign with the school until January.

Alexander said Friday that his decision came down to Kansas coach Bill Self and his ability to develop big men.

“It was really tough, really tough,” Alexander said of his decision. “Me and my family did a lot of talking, a lot of thinking. We came down to a conclusion. Coach Self is a great guy. He develops players. I like how he coaches. I like how he gets the ball to the bigs, develop the bigs.”

Alexander joined forward Kelly Oubre, who is ranked No. 10 by ESPN, in Kansas’ recruiting class. Oubre has also signed his letter of intent.

No. 3 Cliff Alexander Commits to Kansas

November, 15, 2013
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Cliff Alexander, the top-ranked power forward in the ESPN 100, committed Friday to the Jayhawks. Alexander chose Kansas over hometown Illinois.

Top recruit Okafor chooses Duke

November, 15, 2013
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Top-ranked Jahlil Okafor and fourth-ranked Tyus Jones committed simultaneously to the Blue Devils. The duo picked Duke over Kansas and explained their decision to Matt Schick.

Simeon's Williams commits to Illinois

November, 5, 2013
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Chicago Simeon junior forward D.J. Williams committed to Illinois on Tuesday.

Williams, a 6-foot-7, 203-pound small forward, chose the Illini over DePaul, Florida, Georgetown, Providence, Purdue and Southern Methodist.

“From my first time on campus, I was just thinking it was the right move,” Williams said by phone on Tuesday morning. “I’ve liked [Illinois] coach [John] Groce on and off the court. It’s also close to my home. My family can watch me play. The Big Ten is also one of the best conferences in the country."

Williams is ranked No. 28 in ESPN’s Class of 2015 and is the highest-ranked recruit Groce has landed since being hired in March of 2012. Illinois has two top-50 recruits committed in the Class of 2014 and signed two top-100 recruits in the Class of 2013.

ESPN recruiting nation scout/analyst Reggie Rankin thought Williams could be an impact player in the Big Ten and was another significant recruit for the Illini.

“I think he’s a wing player that can score,” Rankin said. “He’s got great length. He’s got a terrific mid-range game. He’s active and he’s got tremendous upside. He’ll be an excellent wing scorer in the Big Ten. That’s a tremendous get for them, especially from another instate, Chicago high school power.

“I think that now Groce has been there a year and he’s more established that these things are going to happen more consistently. It may not be a steady stream, but I think he’ll be able to get high-level underclassmen early because they’re established there as a team and are doing well and are projected to do well. They also have an excellent class in play in 2014. I think it’s part of Groce and his staff being more established and working their home turf, which is a tremendous recruiting ground for them.”

Williams was optimistic he could attract other top players from his class and help build Illinois into a NCAA tournament championship contender.

“I can now start recruiting for the other players to kind of join me,” Williams said. “Illinois is rolling really good. With the players they have coming in and more from my year, I think we can make a big run in the NCAA tournament.”

Williams is the third player from Simeon to commit to Groce. He previously signed shooting guard Kendrick Nunn and point guard Jaylon Tate from Simeon. Both are expected to play for the Illini as freshmen this season.

Simeon coach Robert Smith said he was proud to send players to Illinois.

“It’s one thing [former Simeon coach Bob] Hambric talked to me about when I was younger, about keeping guys at home is always big for Simeon, Illinois and the state,” Smith said. “I think it’s a great opportunity. Our basketball is too good in the state to have everyone leave for other schools. That’s my drive to let other people and coaches know to try to keep our guys home. It’s not for everyone. It’s best for some players to go to Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina because it doesn’t fit here, but we should try to make our basketball rich and good in Illinois.”

Williams has made a number of unofficial visits to Illinois during the past few years. His most recent visit came during Illinois’ homecoming on Oct. 26.

Illinois assistant coach Paris Parham was the lead recruiter on Williams.

Illinois is also among the final four schools for Chicago Curie senior forward Cliff Alexander, who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. He will announce between DePaul, Illinois, Kansas and Memphis on ESPNU on Nov. 15.

“Williams’ commitment certainly can’t hurt with Alexander,” Rankin said. “It shows another Chicago high-level player has earned their trust to go to Illinois.”

Williams is Illinois’ first Class of 2015 recruit.

Four schools with best shot at Okafor

October, 6, 2013
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Chicago Whitney Young center Jahlil Okafor, ESPN’s top-ranked senior, hasn’t officially cut his list to four schools, but Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky have the best chance of landing him, Okafor’s father said on Sunday.

Jahlil Okafor told Scout.com on Saturday he had narrowed his choices to Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky, but Chukwudi Okafor, Jahlil's father, said the list wasn’t official.

“We haven’t officially cut the list,” Chukwudi said in a phone interview on Sunday. “Those four schools have the best chance. Anything can still happen.”

Okafor participated in USA Basketball’s national team developmental training camp in Colorado on Saturday and Sunday. Chukwudi said he and his son would discuss his recruiting when Okafor returns to Chicago.

In late May, Okafor released a list of eight schools he was considering. The list included Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Okafor has said he’d like to attend the same school as Apple Valley (Minnesota) point guard Tyus Jones, who is ranked No. 4 by ESPN. Jones and Okafor have planned official visits to Duke and Kansas together later this month. They previously visited Baylor together.

DePaul, Illini among finalists for Alexander

September, 23, 2013
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Chicago Curie senior forward Cliff Alexander, ESPN's No. 2-ranked prospect, tweeted Monday his top-6 schools are Arizona, DePaul, Illinois, Kansas, Memphis and Michigan State.

Alexander told ESPNChicago.com on Sunday he had cut Kentucky from his original top-10 list and was also considering Connecticut and Oregon because they were recruiting Huntington Prep senior point guard JaQuan Lyle. Alexander and Lyle have discussed attending the same school. Connecticut and Oregon didn't make Alexander's list on Monday.

Baylor, Indiana and Louisville also did not make the cut after being on Alexander's top-10 list.

Alexander has made official visits to Arizona and DePaul. He will also make official visits to Kansas on Oct. 4, Memphis on Oct. 18 and Illinois on Oct. 26. He said he might also take an unofficial visit to Michigan State.

Alexander said he expects to commit in mid-December and sign his letter of intent in the spring.

Alexander said Sunday that DePaul and Illinois were among his finalists because he's interested in playing in state and is intrigued by the direction the programs are headed.

DePaul's recent recruiting efforts in Chicago have helped their standing with Alexander. He said he'd like to play with former Chicago Public League players Billy Garrett, Tommy Hamilton, Rashaun Stimage and Myke Henry.

"I love [DePaul] coach Oliver Purnell," Alexander said. "He's a great guy. He's built a great relationship with my mom. We had a fun time. I'm really considering them. It helps a lot playing with Tommy, Myke, Billy and Rashaun. I know those guys."

Alexander said he also feels comfortable with the Illini's coaching staff and players.

"Coach [John] Groce since he got the job, he's been communicating with me well," Alexander said. "My mom loves him, that whole coaching staff. I've been down there a few times and just hanging with the guys."

Alexander cuts Kentucky, adds UConn, Oregon

September, 22, 2013
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NORRIDGE, Ill. -- Chicago Curie senior power forward Cliff Alexander, ESPN’s No. 2-ranked prospect, said Sunday he has eliminated Kentucky from his list of schools.

“They just stopped communicating with me,” said Alexander during the Mac Irvin Back to School Jam at Ridgewood High School on Sunday. “It’s surprising. I haven’t talked to [Kentucky coach John Calipari] in I don’t know how long. I’m somewhat [disappointed,] but hey it’s a business. You do what you have to do.”

Alexander, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward, said all the other schools he named in a top-10 list in June are still in play. His list included Arizona, Baylor, DePaul, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Memphis and Michigan State.

Alexander said he’s considering Connecticut and Oregon because they are also recruiting Huntington Prep senior point guard JaQuan Lyle, who is ranked No. 22 by ESPN. Alexander and Lyle have recently discussed attending the same school. Lyle recently decommitted from Louisville.

Alexander has made official visits to Arizona and DePaul. He will also make official visits to Kansas on Oct. 4, Memphis on Oct. 18 and Illinois on Oct. 26. He said he might take an unofficial visit to Michigan State.

Alexander said he expects to commit in mid-December and sign his letter of intent in the spring.

Alexander said DePaul and Illinois are among his finalists because he’s interested in playing in state and in the direction the programs are headed.

DePaul’s recent recruiting efforts in Chicago have helped their standing with Alexander. He said he’d like to play with former Chicago Public League players Billy Garrett, Tommy Hamilton, Rashaun Stimage and Myke Henry.

“I love [DePaul] coach Oliver Purnell,” Alexander said. “He’s a great guy. He’s built a great relationship with my mom. We had a fun time. I’m really considering them. It helps a lot playing with Tommy, Myke, Billy and Rashaun. I know those guys.”

Alexander said he also feel comfortable with the Illini’s coaching staff and players.

“Coach [John] Groce since he got the job, he’s been communicating with me well,” Alexander said. “My mom loves him, that whole coaching staff. I’ve been down there a few times and just hanging with the guy.

Ulis receives Kentucky offer

August, 16, 2013
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Marian Catholic senior point guard Tyler Ulis received an offer from Kentucky while on an unofficial visit on Friday, according to his father.

Ulis, a 5-foot-9 point guard from Matteson, Ill., recently named Iowa Kentucky, Michigan State and USC his four finalists. He had previously received offers from the other three other schools, but not from Kentucky.

“[Kentucky made the list because] of the success they have had there recently,” Ulis’ father, James Ulis, recently said when his son cut his list. “John Calipari has produced the most point guards in recent years and has taken them right to the NBA. He obviously knows how to coach point guards. He knows how to put them in positions to lead the team. He’s a tough coach. There’s accountability from Day 1 to win and win at a high level.”

Ulis is ranked No. 38 overall and the No. 8 point guard in the Class of 2014 by ESPN.

Okafor bothered by Duke rumor

August, 9, 2013
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An ongoing rumor that Duke is the leader for the recruiting package of No. 1-ranked senior Jahlil Okafor and No. 3-ranked Tyus Jones is ruining the process for the two players, Okafor's father said on Friday.

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Marian Catholic senior point guard Tyler Ulis named Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan State and USC as his four finalists on Thursday, according to his father.

Ulis, a 5-foot-9 point guard from Matteson, Ill., is ranked No. 38 overall and the No. 8 point guard in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. He eliminated DePaul, Florida State, Northwestern and Purdue from the schools he was considering.

[+] EnlargeTyler Ulis
AP Photo/Damen Jackson/Triple Play New Media

DePaul, Florida State, Northwestern and Purdue are out for point guard Tyler Ulis, who has narrowed his prospective college choices to Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan State and USC.

“It’s been a long time coming for him,” Ulis’ father, James Ulis, said in a phone interview on Thursday night. “He always felt like he could play at this level. It’s nice for him to be rewarded and people can see it.”

Ulis holds offers from Iowa, Michigan State and USC, but not from Kentucky. James said Kentucky coach John Calipari has expressed interest in Ulis and believes an offer could be coming.

“There’s mutual interest,” James said. “We’ve had the opportunity to talk to Coach Calipari, and they basically said Tyler is a great point guard, great leader and they would love to give him an opportunity to run their program. Coach Cal wants to get to know Tyler and us to get to know him.”

Kentucky made the list because of its recent successes, James Ulis said.

“John Calipari has produced the most point guards in recent years and has taken them right to the NBA,” he said. “He obviously knows how to coach point guards. He knows how to put them in positions to lead the team. He’s a tough coach. There’s accountability from Day 1 to win and win at a high level.”

While Kentucky is the newest suitor of Ulis, Iowa has been on him the longest.

“What I love about [Iowa coach Fran McCaffery] is from the beginning he clearly stated Tyler was the point guard to lead his team,” James said. “What is being said about Ty now is what Fran said about him last year. We also like the offense that Fran runs, and Fran is just a great guy. Tyler will get an opportunity to play the style he wants to play.”

Style also factored in Ulis’ decision to keep USC on his list. Ulis was attracted by the fast-paced game USC coach Andy Enfield used while previously at Florida Gulf Coast.

“Tyler really loves his offense, that open style of game -- pass, run-and-gun and open space,” James said. “They get up and down the court. They get after it. He’s coached in the NBA and obviously has some shooting videos out. He’s a great shooting coach. I think for Ty to go to the next level he has to knock down the 3 consistently.”

Michigan State also made the cut for a variety of reasons.

“Michigan State, obviously the tradition at point guard; I’m a big Magic Johnson fan,” James said. “They’ve won. They’re had success. You want your kid to play for Coach [Tom] Izzo. They always get some really good players. Obviously the family tie, [Tyler’s cousin] Travis Walton played there.”

James said no in-state schools made his son’s final list because the other schools were better fits. DePaul and Northwestern had been recruiting Ulis, and his family created relationships with DePaul coach Oliver Purnell and Northwestern coach Chris Collins. The family also recently heard from Illinois, but James said it was too late in the process to consider Illinois.

“Illinois recently reached out to us concerning Tyler,” James said. “It would be tough to go that direction because they were going another direction before. We respect that. I didn’t know the reason they hadn’t approached Tyler [previously]. We were told they weren’t going to recruit another point guard in 2014. Once Tyler did what he did [on the club travel scene], Coach [John] Groce reached out.”

James said his son plans to set up official visits in September and decide on a school before the early signing period in November.

Top-100 recruit Law commits to N'western

July, 4, 2013
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Chicago St. Rita senior forward Vic Law committed to Northwestern coach Chris Collins on Thursday and became the highest-ranked recruit in the program’s history.

Law, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound small forward, chose Northwestern over Dayton, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Stanford and VCU. He is ranked No. 66 by ESPN in the Class of 2014.

“There’s nothing like being No. 1,” Law said of becoming the first top-100 recruit ever to commit to Northwestern. “Knowing that, I really believe in coach Collins. I think [Northwestern] can go to the [NCAA tournament] this year. I think the sky’s the limit for them and they can only go up. I really believe in coach Collins. I just think he has a great basketball mind.”

St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare, a former Division I assistant coach, thinks Law and Northwestern are perfect for each other.

“I think it’s an all-around fit for everyone,” DeCesare said. “As far as Vic playing, his greatest characteristic is his versatility. He’s a very skilled wing with great size. He has an ability to knock down shots and create shots. Defensively, he can guard multiple positions, which is a huge plus.

“He’s been a three-year starter for me. Every year, he’s gotten better and better. There aren’t too many guys who are 6-8 and can knock down the deep 3 and get to the rim and finish. If he puts his mind to it, he can be one of the best players in the state.”

Law believes he is just the start for Northwestern in attracting top-100 players.

“I’m going to bring in some guys with me,” Law said. “I’m not worried about it. Being No. 1 means nothing until there’s No. 2.”

Law averaged 15 points and seven rebounds last season for St. Rita of the Chicago Catholic League.

Northwestern assistant coach Armon Gates was the lead recruiter on Law.

Collins was hired in late March to replace Bill Carmody, who was fired after 13 seasons. Northwestern has never been to the NCAA tournament.

Law is Northwestern’s first Class of 2014 recruit.

Illinois on Okafor's list of final eight

May, 29, 2013
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Chicago Whitney Young High School center Jahlil Okafor, ESPN's No. 1-ranked junior, announced Wednesday a list of eight schools he's still considering in his recruitment.

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Morgan Park's Taylor commits to Bradley

May, 12, 2013
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Morgan Park senior forward Xzavier Taylor committed to Bradley on Sunday, according to his club coach.

Taylor, a 6-foot-9 power forward, chose the Braves over Kansas State and Wake Forest, among others. He is ranked the No. 63 power forward in the Class of 2013 by ESPN.

Taylor averaged 8.5 points while helping Morgan Park to an Illinois Class 3A state title last season. He had 11 points and 12 rebounds in the Mustangs’ state championship win.

“We think Xzavier is only going to get better,” Mac Irvin Fire coach Mike Irvin said. “He was a big important piece on that state championship run for Morgan Park. He had to match up with some of the city and state’s best big men. We think him going to Bradley definitely is a good sign for them."

Bradley assistant coach Ronald Coleman was the lead recruiter on Taylor.

Taylor is the sixth player in Bradley’s 2013 recruit class. He joins high school seniors Jordan Swopshire and Stefan Zecevic, junior college players Chris Blake and Auston Barnes and transfer Mike Shaw, who previous played at Illinois.
Jabari ParkerJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJabari Parker might have gone to Illinois if John Groce had more time to recruit him.
Simeon coach Robert Smith believes Illinois' John Groce is on the right path as far as recruiting top talent out of Chicago.

In fact, Smith believes if Groce had been hired sooner, he might have had a shot at Jabari Parker.

Groce replaced Bruce Weber, who was fired, after the 2011-2012 season. Parker was already cutting his list of schools and eliminated Illinois from his choices. Parker had a good relationship with Weber, who had been recruiting him for years, but the uncertainty of change didn't sit well with the top recruit. Parker ultimately committed to Duke over BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford.

Parker's teammates, Simeon senior guards Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn, are both signed to play at Illinois next season.

"If Illinois had hired John Groce earlier, they would have had chance with Jabari," Smith said. "He was hired too late and Jabari was already looking at other schools. He wanted to play for his home state and win a national championship here.

"[I think Groce had a chance with Parker] because of his personality, him as a coach -- he let his players play -- and his charisma. I know Jaylon and Kendrick love him as a coach and person. I think that has a lot to do with them going there."

Smith believes those characteristics that will lead to Groce receiving future commitments from Chicago's premier players. One of the biggest criticisms of Weber was he failed to retain the state's top talent. Derrick Rose, Jon Scheyer, Sherron Collins, Evan Turner and Julian Wright chose to play out of state during Weber's Illinois tenure.
Curie forward Cliff Alexander, who is ranked No. 8 in the Class of 2014, is currently one of Illinois' main recruiting targets.

"I think it can happen with Cliff and getting him there and some of the other guys over there," Smith said. "I think Illinois has a real chance in the next three or four years to really do some things. I could see them go to the Final Four and possibly win a national championship in the next three or four years.

"It's just like the vision I had for Illinois when I was interested in the job. It's playing out without me being there. Coach Groce is doing a great job with that."

Groce was given a one-year contract extension and salary raise after this past season. He led Illinois to a 23-13 record, 8-10 in the Big Ten and to the NCAA tournament in his first year.

Groce's 2013 recruiting class is ranked No. 15 by ESPN. The class includes Nunn, Tate, small forward Malcolm Hill, power forward Austin Colbert and center Maverick Morgan. Illinois will also add three transfers -- Seton Hall sophomore guard Aaron Cosby, Illinois State junior forward Jon Ekey and Western Michigan forward Darius Paul.

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