High School: Simeon

Simeon's Williams commits to Illinois

November, 5, 2013
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.

Final 2013 ESPN 100 player rankings

May, 1, 2013

Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle remain on top of the final ESPN 100 for the Class of 2013.

See the final rankings here.

Smith passes on college to stay at Simeon

April, 22, 2013
Simeon Career Academy coach Robert Smith said Monday he has decided to bypass college coaching opportunities to make a run at a fifth consecutive Illinois state title with the Wolverines next season.

Smith has accumulated a 260-40 record, won six state titles and had one runner-up finish in nine seasons with Simeon. He said after the high school season he would consider leaving Simeon for a college assistant position.

(Read full post)

ESPN 25 Power Rankings: Final

April, 9, 2013
For the second straight year, Montverde Academy (Fla.) was involved in a epic NHSI title game that featured a double-digit lead and crazy late-game heroics. The Eagles were on the losing end in 2011. But Kasey Hill made sure they wouldn't walk away empty-handed this time around.

Hill spurred a furious late-game comeback, culminating with a drive-and-kick dish to Jalyn Patterson for the game-winning shot with less than a second to play.

Montverde, which was ranked No. 2 in our preseason poll, never dipped below its initial ranking and held the top spot for five weeks before being upset at the buzzer in consecutive games in mid-January.

St. Benedict's, the NHSI runner-up, takes over No. 2 in the poll thanks in large part to the play of Syracuse-bound PG Tyler Ennis and a win over then No. 1 Findlay Prep. Findlay put its perfect season on the line at NHSI, but came up short in the semifinals. The Pilots overall body of work was impressive, though, and they were one of two teams to beat Montverde, earning them the third spot. Lone Peak was in the mix for the top overall spot but winds up at No. 4 -- tops among public school squads.

Four-time Illinois state champ Simeon rounds out the top 5, while fellow Chicago club Whitney Young went 8-3 against ranked teams to grab a top-10 spot despite not winning a state title. Back in the final poll after an extended hiatus is four-time Nebraska champ Omaha Central.

Did we get the final rankings right? Tweet us using #ESPN25hoops and let us know which teams we missed on.

Note: This poll is compiled weekly by the RecruitingNation staff. Every high school team is eligible to be ranked as long as its roster does not include any fifth-year seniors.

Check out the rankings here.

Jabari Parker ends prep career to big cheers

April, 4, 2013

CHICAGO -- Jabari Parker threw down a baseline dunk. He dished out a few assists. He grabbed a few rebounds. He made a few steals and blocked a few shots.

On the court Wednesday, Parker was being Parker as he displayed his all-around game and showed why he’s been considered one of the premier high school players in the country for much of his career.

But when Parker and most people think back of his McDonald’s All American Game experience, what they’ll remember isn’t Parker’s West team winning 110-99 or anything he did during the actual game. It’ll be the memory of his introduction before the game at the United Center.

[+] EnlargeJabari Parker
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhWednesday's McDonald's All-American Game at the United Center was a homecoming of sorts for Chicago's Jabari Parker, who said he wanted to "represent the city of Chicago on the way."
With the lights out and the spotlight on and after every other player already on the floor, Parker was announced as being from Simeon Career Academy and Chicago. The welcoming decibels were well beyond those of anyone before him.

It was the perfect reception for the hometown Duke commit Parker, a four-time state champion and two-time Mr. Basketball who is No. 2 in the ESPN 100 ranking index.

“It was like homecoming,” Parker explained after the game. “It’s just a homecoming day for me, see everybody out there. You know we can celebrate. I know I represent all the high school players, so that’s all I wanted to do. Be there and represent the city of Chicago on the way.”

Whitney Young High School junior center and fellow Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s No. 1 junior, was just as moved by the fans’ love for Parker.

“Seeing the crowd embrace him as they did, he deserves it more than anybody,” Okafor said. “Seeing everybody cheer that loud, I was really happy and just put like chills down my body. It’s something I can work hard for and maybe I can experience that next year.”

It was nearly the same feeling for Ronnie Fields, a former McDonald’s All American from Chicago, who was attending his first McDonald’s game in nearly 20 years.

“I was so happy,” said Fields, who was a McDonald’s All American in 1996. “I was waiting for him to come out.”

“To see the city continue to breed these guys out, it just made me proud,” he said. “You go down the list. We got Jabari. We got Derrick Rose. We got Okafor coming. That goes back to Isiah Thomas. The list goes on and on.”

Parker was thought to be playing his final game in Chicago for the foreseeable future, but he hinted at another game, possibly meaning a Duke game in Chicago next season. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski did bring Jon Scheyer back to play before his hometown Chicago crowd, and that also could be the case for Parker, who is expected to spend just one season in college before bolting for the NBA.

Whether or not Parker will be back in Chicago next year, he left a bit of everything on the floor Wednesday. He had 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks; didn’t allow anything easy to No. 1-ranked Andrew Wiggins (uncommitted; from Canada by way Huntington Prep in West Virginia); and came out on the victorious side, just as he did throughout his career.
All in all, Parker realized his hometown experience was unique at this game.

“I know I’ve been spoiled a little bit more being in Chicago and playing at the United Center,” Parker said. “This was a great experience.”

ESPN 25 Power Rankings: Week 18

March, 26, 2013
Two ranked teams took home championship trophies, while two others came up short in their title pursuit as the remaining state champs were crowned across the nation this past weekend.

No. 8 Mater Dei captured the program's 10th title Saturday, beating San Jose Archbishop Mitty 50-45 behind a huge individual game from junior Stanley Johnson. Over in Indiana, Carmel beat Cathedral for the second time this year to grab its second straight Class 4A crown.

Then-No. 17 Pershing wasn't so fortunate in the Michigan playoffs, falling to Romulus and having its perfect season snapped. Romulus took Pershing's place in the rankings after winning the Class A tournament. Chester was upset by Lower Merion but remains in the top 25 based on total body of work.

Now that state champs around the country have been crowned, the last remaining games will come at the National High School Invitational April 4-6. Top-ranked Findlay Prep goes in as the favorites, but the Pilots will be severely tested by a loaded field that includes five top-10 squads.

Our final rankings will be revealed on April 9.

Tweet us your top five teams using #ESPN25hoops.

Note: This poll is compiled weekly by the RecruitingNation staff. Every high school team is eligible to be ranked as long as its roster does not include any fifth-year seniors.

Check out the rankings here.

Jabari Parker repeats as Mr. Basketball

March, 25, 2013
Jabari Parker AP Photo/Cal Sport MediaSimeon's Jabari Parker was named Illinois Mr. Basketball for the second straight year.

Simeon senior forward Jabari Parker was announced as the first two-time Illinois Mr. Basketball winner on Monday.

Parker, a Duke recruit, won the award, which is voted on by statewide media and schools, with 315 points and 43 first-place votes, the Chicago Tribune announced on Monday. Parker was the first non-senior to win the award last season.

“It means a lot,” Parker said on Monday. “I worked extremely hard to get back (from my foot injury) and help my team the best I could. I don’t care about the individual awards, but it’s a reflection on my team. Having somebody from Simeon win it again means a lot.”

(Read full post)

ESPN 25 Power Rankings: Week 16

March, 12, 2013
St. Anthony and Lake Oswego's lengthy tenure in the rankings came to an end after playoff losses, while Iowa City West and Germantown completed back-to-back undefeated seasons on the hardwood to move into the top 15. Also, Chicago Whitney Young falls to No. 10.

Check out the rankings here.

Biancardi's Breakdown: Jabari Parker

March, 12, 2013

Now that No. 2 senior prospect Jabari Parker is back to full health, has his college decision behind him and is chasing a fourth consecutive state title, Paul Biancardi re-examines what makes Parker such a unique and talented player as his high school career winds to a close and why he’ll be able to make an immediate impact at Duke next year.

Read the entire story here.

ESPN 25 Power Rankings: Week 13

February, 19, 2013
WhiteScott Powers/ESPNChicago.com

Whitney Young is back on top of Chicago hoops after capturing the Public School tourney crown. The title moved the Dolphins past city rival Simeon and on the edge of cracking the top 5. Plus, preseason top-10 squads Chester and Oak Hill Academy are creeping back into the top 20.

See the rankings here.

Watch: Simeon vs. Morgan Park

February, 13, 2013
Watch Simeon take on Morgan Park in a Public League semifinal at 5 p.m. CT Wednesday at Chicago State followed by Orr vs. Whitney Young at 7 p.m. Click here to watch the games live.

Big matchups highlight Jordan Classic

February, 12, 2013

There’s no arguing the quality of this year’s Jordan Brand Classic rosters, which were announced on Tuesday. The game is stocked with 22 players, and that means some of the fat has been trimmed off the event.

Read the entire story here.

ESPN 25 Power Rankings: Week: 11

February, 5, 2013
For the second straight week, an in-state battle between top-15 squads served as the marquee matchup in high school hoops.

Following last week's battle of the Chi, St. Benedict's Prep and St. Anthony squared off in a clash of New Jersey Titans Friday night. Prep was able to wrestle away a 47-38 victory, which gave the Gray Bees state bragging rights and snapped the nation's longest active winning streak.

The win, combined with Whitney Young's upset loss to Orr, propels St. Benedict's into the top five for the first time this winter. With back-to-back losses, WY falls to No. 8 behind a pair of red-hot teams in Huntington Prep (six straight wins) and Simeon (10 in a row). La Lumiere gains a spot to move to No. 9 and Long Beach Poly returns to the top 10 on the strength of a five-game winning streak.

WCAC leader Gonzaga reaches its highest point of the season at No. 14 while preseason top-10 team Oak Hill Academy falls to its lowest spot at No. 15. As we get closer to the end of the season, our voters are placing more of an emphasis on strength of schedule rather than overall record, leading to teams like Iowa City and Midwest City experiencing slight drops despite their unblemished records.

Tweet us your top five teams using #ESPN25hoops.

Note: This poll is compiled weekly by the RecruitingNation staff. Every high school team is eligible to be ranked as long as its roster does not include any fifth-year seniors.

Click here for the rankings.

Simeon retires numbers of Parker, Nunn

February, 1, 2013
Jabari ParkerMark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsJabari Parker will be the last Simeon player to wear No. 22.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Simeon Career Academy forward Jabari Parker, the nation's No. 2 senior and a Duke recruit, has accomplished what few before him have in their high school careers. The latest came during Simeon's final home game of the season on Jan. 25 when the school retired Parker's No. 22 jersey and guard Kendrick Nunn's No. 20 while both players are still active.

[+] EnlargeKendrick Nunn
Scott Powers,/ESPNChicago.comSimeon guard Kendrick Nunn is headed to Illinois.
Parker and Nunn, who is ranked No. 59 in the nation and is an Illinois recruit, have played for Simeon's varsity team all four years and have led the Wolverines to three consecutive state championships and one Chicago Public League title. They also won gold medals while playing together for Team USA in 2011 and 2012.

Parker and Nunn each were given their Simeon jersey in a glass case prior to their final home game. They joined Derrick Rose, Bobby Simmons and Ben Wilson as the lone players to have their number retired at Simeon.

"We thought about it last year and their legacies -- the possibility of having a fourth state title, both playing for USA, Jabari being national player of the year, maybe being player of the year again, Kendrick committing to Illinois," Simeon coach Robert Smith said on Friday. "Derrick brought Simeon back up, and they kept it up. It's solely on their backs.

"It was something where we thought about bringing them back after they've gone to college, but I just thought it was fitting for the careers. They've left that mark to do it right away."

It's the latest honor for Parker. As a junior, he was named the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year, Illinois' Mr. Basketball and the national Gatorade Player of the Year. He was also the 2011 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.

"He's shocked; he's happy they honored him," Parker's father Sonny Parker said on Friday. "He's been through a whole lot being the first freshman to start on varsity. He's had a really good career the last three years. It was a great moment for him to be recognized as one of the great players that came from Simeon and played there."

Nunn has been Parker's wingman the past three seasons and emerged as the team's leader and go-to man when Parker was injured earlier this season.

"In our eyes, we think he's a top Top-15 kid in the country, especially when he's playing well," Smith said of Nunn. "He knew Jabari was banged up, and Kendrick was banged up too, but he decided to go out there and play through it until Jabari came back. He hasn't made any excuses and just played."

Simeon is 18-2 this season and ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings. The Wolverines are undefeated against in-state opponents this season.
No. 2 senior Jabari Parker and No. 2 junior Jahlil Okafor, whose teams met in a highly anticipated Chicago showdown over the weekend, have different games but share many of the same intangibles that make them successful.

Read the entire story here.