By Joe Henricksen
The kids haven't played a varsity basketball game yet, but the recruiting battles of the three prized fabulous freshmen -- Whitney Young's Tommy Hamilton, De La Salle's Alex Foster and Simeon's Jabari Parker -- will be furious in the coming years. There is always the chance of an early commitment to halt the onslaught, but we're talking about freshmen who don't appear to be -- or need to be -- in any rush.
The latest offer this week for the multi-versatile and extremely skilled Jabari Parker comes from perennial power Kansas. Everyone can expect Kansas to be in the thick of the Parker sweepstakes throughout as Kansas coach Bill Self and legendary Chicago basketball icon Sonny Parker, Jabari's father, have a good relationship.
Locally, Illinois, DePaul and Northwestern are among several other offers that Parker has received. Foster and Hamilton have also been offered by several of the top programs in the midwest and will garner more national hype, attention and offers sooner than later.
You have to go back a little over 10 years ago to compare a group of players this coveted this early in their career in Illinois. Though recruiting has certainly changed since then, with the process speeding up and commitments coming earlier and earlier, the likes of Simeon's Bobby Simmons, Fenwick's Corey Maggette, Whitney Young's Quentin Richardson, who started at Brother Rice, and Peoria Manual's Frank Williams were talked about plenty from 1995-1998.
Some of the recruiting stories surrounding those players were interesting to say the least. Illinois was hoping to land a class that would have rivaled the Fab Five. While Illinois did nab Williams out of Peoria, the Illini fell just short for Maggette (who signed with Duke) and Simmons (who signed with DePaul). Simmons was thought to have been a done deal for Illinois before a sudden switch to DePaul. Coach Pat Kennedy at DePaul was able to rebuild the Blue Demons program by signing Richardson, Simmons and Julian's Lance Williams.
Now Illinois, DePaul and Northwestern will all try to keep the young stars local.