Saturday night, at Chicago State University, two of the best high school basketball teams in the country met, when Simeon beat Whitney Young, 44-41, in a showdown of Chicago Public League giants that was nationally televised on ESPNU.
The game included many star players, including Jabari Parker (No. 2 player in 2013), LJ Peak, Paul White and Jahlil Okafor (no. 2 recruit in class of 2014). College scouts were salivating over the abundance of talent on the floor. It looked like a college game, with both the size of the players and the pace of the game. Although, there were some sloppy stretches of play, the stars shined bright on Saturday.
But, the two players who shined brightest were not Parker or Okafor, rather Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate of Simeon. Both Nunn and Tate are heading to Illinois next fall, and they showed their potential, by stealing the spotlight in the star-studded show. Tate led a balanced Simeon team, with 12 points, on 6-8 shooting. Nunn added 10 points, had 6 rebounds and 4 assists in the game.
Tate is a 3-star point guard, according to Rivals, who had interest from over a dozen major division one schools, but went with John Groce at Illinois. Nunn, meanwhile, is even higher touted, having 4 stars,and is ranked as the no. 45 player, and the no. 12 shooting guard in the nation for 2013.
Highly touted guards from Simeon have done well in the past several years, including a kid called Derrick Rose. You might have heard of him, he plays pro-ball these days in the same town.
Both players do not get as much attention as they deserve, due to the presence of national superstar Parker on their team. However, Nunn looks at it as an advantage to have such a great player with him, stating, “That’s what I do, play off Jabari.”
Parker added praise to the duo of guards, “Our bigs, we weren’t there. But Jaylon and Kendrick, they really took it to them.”
It had to be an exciting night for all basketball fans, but for Illinois fans there was an added satisfaction from seeing their future look so bright. Whitney Young and Simeon can still play twice more this season, so expect more big stages for the Illini duo of Tate and Nunn.