Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker talks about teen killed after Simeon game


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

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
Leave a comment

Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Leave a comment

Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.