Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker talks about teen killed after Simeon game

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Duke commit, Jabari Parker put together one of the more impressive performances at the 2013 Spalding Hoophall Classic on Monday in Springfield, Mass.

The Simeon Career Academy (Ill.) small forward scored the first 11 Simeon points, en route to a 81-68 win over the storied Oak Hill Academy (W.Va.).

A strong performance on the national stage for the Chicago native only continues the roller coaster year. In July he broke his foot — which he is still recovering from — followed by losing his No. 1 ranking to Andrew Wiggins of Huntington Prep (W.Va.). Parker made an appearance in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary Benji and ended his recruitment when he pledged to Duke in December.

Parker, in a nationally televised game, dropped 28 points to go along with five rebounds and two blocks. However the big-time game for Parker comes five days after a teen was shot dead following a Simeon basketball game.

Tyrone Lawson, a 17-year-old was shot and killed after Simeon defeated Morgan Park 53-51 at Chicago State, though a brawl took place during postgame handshakes.

“For me, it was kind of emotional,” Parker said on Monday. “Seeing my city go down with such turmoil.”

Parker, due to his skillset and size is likely a one-and-done candidate at Duke next year. If he can live up to the potential and have a success professional career many imagine for him, Parker has already planned for life after basketball.

“If I so happen to make it one day, I want to be a community activist and just get these kids off the street,” said the 17-year-old Parker.

In the storied tradition of Simeon basketball, Parker’s name is in an elite class with guys like Derrick Rose and the late Ben Wilson, who was highlighted in the Benji documentary. Wilson was fatally shot as a senior at Simeon, when he was tabbed as the nation’s best high school player. Parker told reporters Monday he has never feels in danger in his city.

“I know I’m going to be fine,” said Parker. “I’m always away from all that stuff. I’m never outside in the public.”

“A couple of years ago it was just as bad. Every city has its ups-and-downs.”

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Justin Jackson, No. 9 North Carolina survive at Boston College

North Carolina's Justin Jackson (44) reacts following a basket against UNC Greensboro during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. North Carolina won 96-63. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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No. 9 North Carolina’s trip to Chestnut Hill to play ACC cellar dweller Boston College was expected to be a routine one, with Roy Williams’ team taking care of business and heading back home. The game was anything but routine, beginning with Williams’ decision to start a completely different front court from the one that struggled in a loss at Notre Dame Saturday night.

Add in Williams having to leave the sidelines after collapsing in the second half and the Tar Heels’ struggles throughout the night against Jim Christian’s Eagles, and North Carolina was in position to suffer a stunning setback. Yet in the end North Carolina won 68-65, thanks to a timely four-point play from Marcus Paige and 20 points from sophomore forward Justin Jackson.

Due to his recent shooting slump Paige has been the most often discussed Tar Heel of late, but given his overall track record there were few who thought he wouldn’t find a way to turn things around. He is North Carolina’s best player, and ultimately how far the Tar Heels go this spring will depend upon how well Paige plays. But he can’t do it all alone, and in the case of Jackson the Tar Heels have a gifted wing capable of making plays offensively…when he chooses to do so.

Against Boston College an aggression that hasn’t been seen from Jackson on a consistent basis this season, since a stretch in late November of three straight games of 20 points or more, was present. He attacked the Boston College defense on a night in which North Carolina’s perimeter shots once again missed the mark (5-for-16 3PT), scoring 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field. The benching seemingly lit a fire under Jackson, giving North Carolina a much-needed boost in a game that turned out to be far more difficult than many expected.

The question now is what Jackson does to build on this performance. The skill is there, but this is a matter of having the mindset needed to make plays without being prodded. Brice Johnson has struggled with similar issues throughout his career, but he put forth the best basketball of his career earlier this season with Kennedy Meeks out of the lineup.

North Carolina struggled for much of the night, even before Williams had to leave the sidelines, and that cannot be glossed over. The Tar Heels have the talent needed to produce better performances than this, one that nearly led to them losing a game they were expected to win convincingly. But there is the positive of Jackson’s performance to take from it, as he looked to attack the Boston College defense consistently and experienced success in doing so.

The Tar Heels will face tougher competition in their remaining ACC games, and with that comes the need to have Jackson continue to play at this level. Tuesday night represents a step forward for Jackson, but how big of a step that is will be determined by what he does over the next month.

No. 18 Purdue survives No. 8 Michigan State in overtime thriller

Purdue center A.J. Hammons (20), center, celibates with forward Vince Edwards (12) and forward Jacquil Taylor (23) following an NCAA college basketball game in West Lafayette, Ind., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Purdue defeated Michigan State 82-81 in overtime. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Rapheal Davis hit a free throw with five seconds left and after missing the second, A.J. Hammons grabbed the offensive rebound and killed the clock as No. 18 Purdue survived No. 8 Michigan State in overtime, 82-81, in Mackey Arena.

It was a fitting way for the game to end, as Davis finished with a career-high 24 points, scoring 19 and hitting all five of his threes in the first half as the Boilermakers opened up a lead that, at one point, ballooned to 18 points. Hammons chipped in with 19 points, 13 boards (seven offensive), eight blocks and three assists, doing the majority of his damage in the second half.

Purdue needed this win for a number of reasons, not the least of which is seeding. This is easily Purdue’s best win of the season, depending on how you value beating Florida on a neutral court and winning at Pitt. Not only will it behoove them on Selection Sunday, but with how crowded the middle of the Big Ten is, this could be a valuable tie-breaker for the Big Ten tournament seeding.

Case in point: the Boilermakers are currently all alone in fourth place in the Big Ten standings. Michigan State is all alone … in seventh. It would be the other way around had the Spartans won.

But more than that, Purdue just needed a big win. Entering Tuesday night, the Boilermakers lost basically every big game they’ve played this season. There was that disappointing effort against Butler in the Crossroads Classic. There was the 19-point lead they blew at home against Iowa. They lost the rematch with Iowa two weeks later. They gave away a late lead against Maryland over the weekend.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe, to Purdue, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Pitt and the Hall of Fame Classic matchup with Florida mattered just as much to them. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the games that drew the most national attention all ended up in a disappointing performance — or, more accurately, a disappointing finish — from the Boilermakers.

But Purdue came very, very close to doing the exact same thing on Tuesday.

Because they were up by 18 points in the first half and, thanks to 27 points, 10 assists and eight boards from Denzel Valentine, Michigan State stormed back to take a late lead. In fact, Purdue scored the last four points of regulation just to get this game to overtime, and if Valentine had hit a tough, pull-up jumper at the buzzer, this would be a totally different column.

But Purdue survived, and it will be interesting to see how this will affect their confidence in big games moving forward.

As far as Michigan State is concerned, it was a bit worrisome how poorly Bryn Forbes and Eron Harris played. They combined to shoot 4-for-19 from the floor and 2-for-9 from three. Part of that can be attributed to Rapheal Davis and his ability to chase people off of screens, but that duo missed so open looks and, in Harris’ case, a pair of dunk attempts.

Sparty needs them to be better if they are going to reach their potential.