Parker leads Illinois national quartet
June, 13, 2011
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com
Four Illinois high school players were among the 12 selected to play for the USA National Team in the FIBA Americas U16 championships.
USA Basketball Jahlil Okafor was in good shape during tryouts for the FIBA Americas U16 championships last week.
Simeon rising juniors Kendrick Nunn and Jabari Parker, Whitney Young rising sophomore Jahlil Okafor and Springfield Lanphier rising sophomore Larry Austin were named to the team on Sunday after participating in a 27-player tryout last week in Colorado Springs.
"I just think it speaks volumes on the depth of talent in the state of Illinois," said ESPN recruiting coordinator Reggie Rankin, who attended the tryouts. "The state of Illinois and the city of Chicago have a lot to be proud of. Those kids really represented the city and the state not only with their talent, but their toughness and competitiveness, which made them special."
The USA U16 National Team will play in the FIBA America U16 championships in Cancun, Mexico from June 21-25. The top three teams will earn a berth to the 2012 FIBA U17 world championships in Lithuania.
Parker, who is a 6-8 swingman, is ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. Nunn, a 6-1 shooting guard, is ranked No. 48. The pair helped Simeon win its second consecutive state championship this past season.
"Jabari Parker, I'm still trying to figure out what he can't do," Rankin said. "A kid like Kendrick Nunn won people over with his toughness and aggressiveness. People knew he could shoot, but he showed he could defend and showed great explosiveness."
Okafor, a 6-10 center, is ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2015. He played major minutes for Whitney Young's varsity team as a freshman.
"Jahlil Okafor is a tremendous low post presence," Rankin said. "Just a force in the lane, rebounder, improved finisher. He appears to be in a little bit better shape than I last saw him."
Austin, a 6-1 point guard, is not ranked in ESPN's Terrific 25 for the Class of 2014, but is already receiving high-major interest. Illinois has been closely watching him since he was in eighth grade.
"Larry Austin is a leader," Rankin said.
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at email@example.com.