HILLSIDE, Ill. – Simeon's (Chicago)
Class of 2013 shined powerfully with a few slams Saturday night.
Nation, are you watching? Rick Pitino, the head coach at Louisville, and Bruce Weber, head coach at Illinois, certainly were.
Already up by six points in the early minutes of the 17th annual McDonald's City-Suburban Showdown, Simeon junior forward Jabari Parker
grabbed an offensive rebound and slammed it through the rim with force.
Less than a minute later, Kendrick Nunn
, a 6-foot-2 guard, did the same.
With Pitino and Weber sitting among a crowd of more than 2,000 at Proviso West High School in Hillside, a suburb west of Chicago, Parker notched game highs in points (23) and rebounds (14) as the Wolverines held off De La Salle (Chicago)
Nunn added 14 points, three steals and two assists.
Parker, the No. 1 prospect nationally in the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100, long ago learned how to play with celebrity coaches in the stands.
"Even if I have a bad game, I think they'll mostly recruit me again," Parker joked.
That bad game didn't happen Saturday. Parker led the way for a quintet of Simeon juniors who combined for 49 points and 25 rebounds.
"When you've got Jabari and Kendrick and (junior guard) Jaylon Tate
and (junior forward) Kendall Pollard
, those four guys themselves, they're college basketball players already," Simeon head coach Robert Smith said. "To watch them improve from their freshman year to now has been tremendous with them coming in and working hard every day."
The victory, coming the night after Simeon won the Chicago Public League championship, set the nationally-ranked Wolverines up for a run at a third consecutive Illinois Class 4A state championship. Simeon (26-1) is ranked No. 4 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25.
Over the last three years, Simeon has won 81 of 93 games and lost just three times the last two seasons. In the state tournament (which begins Feb. 28), the Wolverines are 14-0.
"Seven games to win the whole tournament," Smith said. "Basically you have to go on a 7-0 run."
Parker, whose many offers include Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, said he will wait until after this season is over to cut down his list. He intends to sign next November.
Despite Saturday night's highlight moments, the weary Wolverines had to hold on to defeat De La Salle, a team that knocked off Simeon at the 2011 City-Suburban Showdown. Simeon's players were tired after Friday night's hard-fought, 53-49 win over Curie (Chicago)
in the Public League championship game.
"It was nerve-wracking for me because I really didn‘t have any energy," Parker said.
Marcus White led De La Salle (15-6) with 14 points and three steals. He hit two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, one of them pulling the Meteors to within four points, 50-46, with 3:10 left. The Wolverines pushed the lead back up to eight by converting free throws and a Parker offensive rebound leading to a basket by senior Marquette signee Steve Taylor
.No. 14 Proviso East (Maywood) 73, Warren (Gurnee) 66
Proviso East, ranked No. 14 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 and No. 2 in Chicago behind Simeon, won its 24th consecutive game by surviving a late Warren rally.
"We just hang our hats on defense," first-year Proviso East head coach Donny Boyce said. "I was told as a young boy, defense wins championships. So that's what I'm trying to teach these guys."
The Pirates offense is pretty good, as well. Their speed was too much for Warren, especially early in the game when Proviso East scored 11 of the game's first 13 points on fast breaks and threatened to run the Blue Devils out of the gym. Saint Louis University recruit Keith Carter
scored 17 points and had a team-high four assists.
But the night turned into a highlight video for Paris Burns
, a senior point guard who doesn't yet have a college home. Burns scored two of the Pirates' first three baskets and wound up with 17 points and two steals. Among the colleges looking at the athletic Burns, according to Boyce (himself a former Pirate), include Hampton University, Florida A&M, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Valparaiso.
During the Pirates' impressive first quarter, Burns, 5-10, at one point jumped up and stole the ball away from 6-9 Warren forward Nathan Boothe
, who was holding the ball above his head. Burns quickly sent the ball to teammate Paris Lee
, who scored on the play.
Warren (21-3), the 2011 runner-up to Simeon in the Class 4A tournament, fought back with muscle and strong inside play, along with an occasional 3-pointer. A 3-point basket by Darius Paul
(19 points, 13 rebounds), a Western Michigan recruit, with 1:50 left cut Proviso East's lead to two, 65-63. However, Proviso East's Sterling Brown
, a brother of Phoenix Suns guard Shannon Brown, answered with a 3-pointer and the Pirates finished with an 8-3 run to finish off the Blue Devils.
New Trier (Winnetka) 59, St. Rita (Chicago) 41:
Connor Boehm, a 6-7 senior guard, recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, leading New Trier to a win for the second consecutive night. A Dartmouth University recruit, Boehm also scored 23 points Friday night in a 63-58 victory by the Trevians over Maine South (Park Ridge)
Junior forward Steven Cook
added 10 points and 8 rebounds for New Trier (20-5), which dominated St. Rita (14-10) for most of the last three quarters.
The Mustangs, losing for the second time in two days, scored just three baskets in the second and third quarters. Dominique Matthews
led the Chicago Catholic League school with 12 points. Senior guard Tony Hicks
, a Pennsylvania recruit who has averaged more than 30 points much of the season, was held to six points on 2 of 12 shooting.Paul Bowker, an online and newspaper sports journalist for 25 years and the author of two Major League Baseball books, covers the Chicago area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org