The biggest question after the basketball season is how many titles will Simeon star Jabari Parker win in four years with the Wolverines.
Simeon (30-2) bounced from back-to-back losses to Young (20-11) and Benet (29-1) to win back-to-back state basketball championships.
Parker, who is only a sophomore, has emerged as one of the top players in the country. Parker raised his scoring average from nine points a game to 15 points per contest this past season. Parker scored 12 points as Simeon beat Warren (31-4) 48-39 for the Class 4A championship.
“He’s the best player in Illinois,” Simeon head coach Robert Smith said after winning the school’s fifth state title.
Speaking of legacy, Smith is building an impressive resume that could lead to a college coaching job. Smith, who played at Simeon under Bob Hambric, has now won four state titles in seven seasons while winning 197 games.
Simeon figures to be the preseason favorite next year with nine players including Parker returning for a run at a three-peat.
The best thing that Smith does is to get his team to play disciplined and under control on offense while playing solid team defense.
My choice for Player-of-the Year in the Chicago area is East Aurora guard Ryan Boatright, who will attend Connecticut. Boatright led the Tomcats to a 24-6 mark averaging 31 points per game before losing to Glenbard East (28-4) in the East Aurora sectional championship.
Glenbard East coach Scott Miller is my choice for Coach-of-the-Year. The Rams beat East Aurora in the sectional championship as Miller guided the school to a third place finish in Class 4A. Most high school teams don’t recover from emotional wins. Just ask Young and East Aurora who lost its next game after a huge upset.
Gordon’s Dave Andrews is a player to watch next season, but my choice for best player in our area is St. Benedict’s Krys Gago.
St. Ben's Gago, earlier this year against Crane. Photo credit: Jack Lydon
Gago is solid on and off the court with a 3.0 GPA and an ACT score of 22. Gago would score even with opposing teams knew he was going to shoot the basketball for the Bengals. Gago will play at the college level in 2012.
My choice for Coach-of-the-Year in this area is Mather’s Glen Heffernan. Heffernan brought new life into the Rangers’ basketball program the past two seasons.
Basketball in this area was down besides Mather as none of the neighborhood teams advanced past the first week of the state playoffs. Gordon and St. Benedict lost regional championship games while Mather lost to Simeon in the Public League quarterfinals before losing to Glenbrook North in the state playoffs.
Gordon appears to have the brightest future for next season with four starters returning including Andrews who was named All-Catholic League.
The game of the year in my mind was Bolingbrook’s(28-2) 50-49 overtime win over Public League champ Young in the Girls’ Class 4A semifinals. Not only was it the best game I saw this past season, but the state playoff game is one of the best I have ever seen in 33 years of covering hoops in Illinois.
My fab five from this past season are Boatright, Parker, Morgan Park’s Wayne Blackshear, Rock Island guard Chasson Randle, and Perspectives star Anthony Davis who will play at Kentucky.
Keep an eye next season on Mundelein’s Robert Knar who will be a junior.
Finally, I believe the Public League made a mistake giving up its automatic bid in all sports. The only sport that city teams do well in basketball. The Public League can compete in basketball so they only should have dropped the automatic bid for hoops.
It’s highly unlikely that city athletes in baseball, volleyball, softball, and soccer will advance downstate on a regular basis. City teams have had isolated success in a soccer, volleyball, and wrestling. In most cases, teams in those various sports don’t advance past the first week or first game of the state playoffs.
In football, only one city team has advanced to the state championship game. Just a thought.