Lew Wallace (Ind.) vs. Simeon (Ill.)
Lew Wallace (Ind.) comes into the game with a 1-4 record but don't let that fool you because it has played some power house programs thus far and will take on another in Simeon High School (Ill.) Thursday night on ESPN and ESPN3.com at 7 p.m. ET.
The strength of Lew Wallace is its experience because the core group is back from last year's state championship run, before losing in overtime to Cody Zeller and Washington High School.
The star for this club is clearly five-star SF Branden Dawson. The tough, physical and athletic future Michigan State Spartan plays in attack mode at all times and is one of the better rebounders in the country. Whenever he has the ball in his hands he is looking to drive the ball hard, but he also has the ability to make pull-up jumpers.
Look for Lew Wallace to create a fast tempo by pressing and trapping all over the court in an attempt to try and negate the size of Simeon.
The No. 1 ranked team in Illinois and No. 15 in the country is lead by ESPNU Terrific 25 SF Jabari Parker, a versatile player who is productive from anywhere on the floor. Parker is a good scorer who can post up smaller opponents or go to the wing and score. He is an excellent ballhandler for his size and is a good slasher to the basket. Lew Wallace has to contain him, otherwise he is likely to put up a double-double. There is a good chance he will be the next great player to come out of Chicago.
Last year's 4A state champions, are also very deep. Simeon actually has two units, but any one them would start elsewhere and you could make a strong case that if that unit started its own team, it would be ranked.
Simeon plays the game in two speeds. First it will push it to try and score easy conversion points, but if the opportunity is not there it can execute in the half court and utilize the team's patience and size.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.
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