Friday, February 1, 2013
Simeon retires numbers of Parker, Nunn
By Scott Powers
Jabari 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.
Simeon 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.