HOF Chicago Championships recap
A slimmed down, much improved Jay Simpson highlights HOF Chicago Championships
CHICAGO -- The Hall of Fame Chicago Championships, which entered its third year as part of the HOF regional event series, featured travel teams from U-10 to U-17. Director Colin Tabb did a great job with this huge event that was held throughout the city of Chicago and surrounding areas.
Jay Simpson (Champaign, Ill./Champaign Central)
2012, PF, 6-foot-8
The future Purdue Boilermaker joined the track team and lost weight which has really helped his game. Simpson ran the floor better and was active and aggressive on both ends of the floor. He scored inside through contact when he received drop-off passes, attacked the rim with short drives along the baseline and knocked down a 15-foot jumper. Simpson rebounded on both ends in his area and blocked a couple of shots. Simpson's energy and urgency was like night and day since we last saw him back in December. He is strong and has a big body. If he continues to work and Improve, he will make himself and Purdue coach Matt Painter extremely happy.
Jabari Parker (Chicago, Ill./Simeon)
2013, SF, 6-8
Parker has slimmed down since we last saw him, making him much more mobile and explosive, to go along with his tremendous skill and basketball IQ. Parker's best skill might be his ability to pass. He seems to always find the open man and do something positive with the ball when he draws a second defender. Parker has also improved his perimeter on-ball defense.
Timothy Williams Jr. (Chicago, Ill./Homewood Flossmoor)
2012, PF, 6-8
Williams' length and athletic ability was very impressive. He ran the floor with long strides on a consistent basis and rebounded in and out of his area on both ends. Williams can face and hit the open midrange jumper and did a pretty good job defending the low post. He is a smart player who must add to his post moves package, but has tremendous upside. Williams is also a standout quarterback and says most of the Big Ten schools have a close eye on him.
Jerron Wilbut (Chicago, Ill./Downers Grove South)
2012, SG, 6-2
Wilbut is a smooth, athletic wing who has a great motor and plays in attack mode. He excels on the break with his ability to get to the rim and finish over or around defenders with excellent body control. He is a good midrange shooter on the move and can hit the open 3 with time and space. Wilbut is played much more under control and the results were more points and assists. He has good strength for his size and is capable of defending both guard positions as well. So far Wilbut has been hearing from Bradley and UIC, but we expect that number to grow if he continues to make plays on both ends of the floor.
Players to watch
Antonio Bishop (Chicago, Ill./Homewood Flossmoor)
2012, PF, 6-7
Bishop wins you over with his length, energy, effort and athletic ability. He is still a little raw but is a decent passer who runs the floor and finishes above the rim anytime he has a clear path. He also rebounds on both ends with authority. At this stage of his game, he excels in transition, moves well without the ball and simply does a good job of working hard in order to find a way to make a scoring play in and around the glass or with a wide open midrange jumper, mostly off the catch. Bishop is hearing from Dayton, Akron, Fordham, Western Michigan and South Dakota.
Sajae Pryor (Lansingburg, N.Y./Lansingburg)
2011, SF, 6-4
Pryor is an athletic wing who plays in full attack mode. The strong lefty can get to the rim on the break or from the wing in the half-court set in a blink of an eye, especially when he uses his quick first step going to his left. Pryor moves well without the ball, slashes and can finish through contact. He can rebound and go coast-to-coast and has the size, strength and athletic ability to defend both wing positions. Pryor will need to give his jumper some attention, but he takes on all comers off the bounce and lazy defenders don't have a chance to keep stay in front of him.
• The Rising Stars U-16 are led by the trio of 6-1 PG Lorenzo Dillard (Skokie, Ill./Niles North), PF/SF Kendal Sidney (Chicago, Ill./Crane) and versatile wing Royal Ewing (Chicago, Ill./St. Patrick). Dillard can score and deliver the ball, Sidney is an athletic finisher and rebounder and Ewing is an excellent slasher. Purdue and Marquette have checked on Dillard. Ball State, Northern Iowa, UIC, Purdue, Xavier, Indiana and Illinois have their eyes on Ewing and Sidney is under the radar but not for long if he continues to play like he did this past weekend.
• MWSB U-16 has two Class of 2013 players with excellent upside -- long, lean 6-6 shooter Alex Majewski (Chicago, Ill./Bro Rice) and fast developing 6-8 post Justin Earls (Chicago, Ill./De La Salle).
• Jim Lundquist (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) out on a great shooting display by dropping five 3s in about 8 possessions for Ferrari U-16. Lundquist has deep range and a quick trigger when he spots up on the break or coming off screens.
• IBA Select U-16 has two post players in the Class of 2013 that play hard, are productive on both ends of the floor and have excellent upside in 6-8 Nick Czarnowski (Central, Ill./Naperville) and 6-9 Sean O'Mara (Lisle, Ill./Benet Academy). Also 2014 PG Jontrell Walker (West Aurora, Ill./West Aurora) keeps Czarnowski and O'Mara happy with his ability to pass, run the team and make good decisions.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to 1990 and was a first-team All-MAC selection his senior season. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.