By Joe Henricksen

One memorable and rare open gym at Simeon

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By Joe Henricksen

Imagine what it would have been like if Steve Taylor and Kendrick Nunn were still uncommitted?

Despite the fact two of Simeon's highest profile players -- Taylor and Nunn -- are already committed to Marquette and Texas A&M, respectively, Tuesday night's open gym at Simeon was arguably the busiest open gym in Chicago basketball history and a scene that more resembled the Peach Jam in July or a Final Four in April.

You knew it was a little different when coaches were milling around, enjoying soft drinks and sandwiches and talking hoops in anticipation -- 45 minutes before the players were to take the floor.

"Damn, all this is making me nervous," one college coach joked.

With well over 30 coaches in attendance, including some programs coming in tandems and trios, along with a handful of talent evaluators mixed in and fans in the stands, this open gym turned into an event.

And college programs put all their efforts into this one, with some bringing two and three coaches. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching crew, assistants Jeff Capel and Steve Wojciechowski, rolled into Simeon in a limousine.

Illinois coach Bruce Weber and his assistant Jerrance Howard made yet another trip to Chicago's South Side. Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy and assistant Billy Cyprien were comforted in knowing they already had Nunn locked up.

Ohio State's Thad Matta and assistant coach Jeff Boals teamed up. Kansas coach Bill Self was joined by assistant Kurtis Townsend.

North Carolina's Roy Williams, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, DePaul's Oliver Purnell and Utah's Larry Krystkowiak were all there.

Throw in another 20 or so Division I coaches, ranging from head coaches in Tim Miles of Colorado State, Tracy Dildy of Chicago State and Howard Moore of UIC to assistants from Tennessee, Xavier, Northern Illinois, Illinois State, Ohio, Valpo, Colorado State and a few others, and this was no ordinary September night for the Simeon basketball players and program. We're talking six head coaches in Krzyzewski, Self, Weber, Matta, Williams and Izzo who have all coached in a NCAA National Championship game in the past decade. This was not a typical open gym.

The heavy hitters were obviously in attendance to be seen -- by Simeon coach Rob Smith and the No. 1 junior in the country, Jabari Parker. And as Parker played with his teammates for nearly an hour and a half, you had to wonder if any of this was starting to wear on the extremely talented, yet still humble, kid.

The night on South Vincennes did not disappoint. While the talent on display was worth the trip, how hard the players got after it and competed against one another made it even better. There were no coaches coaching, no uniforms, no refs, no band, no cheerleaders, no scoreboard operator, no won-loss record at stake ... just a bunch of talented basketball buddies hoopin. And a bunch of college coaches taking it all in.

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24 Comments

That is a pretty impressive list right there. When was the last time a high school program was in the type of position the Simeon one is currently in? Maybe the Sonny Cox days at King? They had that 10 year run of guys like Levertis Robinson, Marcus Liberty, Jamie Brandon, Johnny Selvie, Ahmad Shareef, Thomas Hamilton, Rashard Griffith and a few others.

While jabari is young & talented, I have yet to walk away from a game thinking... HE WAS JUST HANDS DOWN THE BEST, MOST DOMINANT, PLAYER ON THE FLOOR. Previous top #1 player's (Ben, Marcus, KG, hell, Anthony Davis) left more of a impression on me.

Joe, were do u think he'll eventually sign? I think only 3-4 schools are in the race (Duke,Kansas,UNC...) His parents, seem like they want him on the brightest stage!!!

Joe. Good stuff. But where is another mailbag? Anxious. Love those.

Joe, what you've described here is, in fact, a very common occurence. This gathering happens at every high school in the country that has a high profile uncommitted player. I'm sure the stop at Simeon was just one of many during this contact period for all of the coaches in the gym that day. This is nothing new, nor is it rare by stretch.

Nice can't wait for that suburban mailbox lots of kids and teams not talked about. Wish I could of brought my boy into simeon to battle with a lot of those players. A lot of great dogs in the burbs but u right Parker is the real deal.

Joe, I highly doubt that. This being a contact period, that stop at Simeon was one of many this month all of the coaches in attendance. All standard operating procedure. However, I'm not here to dispute your perspective, 'one man's ceiling is another man's floor'. So if you say it was extraordinary for you, I'm sure it was.

Wow!!! Darnell Joe wrote a great article about what he saw and expressed the atmosphere and u just made it seem like 40 Div 1 coaches come to all the schools. Not!!!! Duke !!!! That is a high powered college program. Let's face it Parker is the real deal so all those coaches came to watch him the other kids are just role players. I love jabari parker great kid but u are sounding kinda bitter. Now Darnell if u can get those coaches to come to the burbs then that's great stuff. Cut my man Joe some slack if u want to get snappy go to Chicago hoops cause Brian would love it!!!

actually I attended Simeon in the early 90's and they didnt come out for guys like Bobby Simmons,Bryant Notree, and Kevin Turner whom I think had better skills then some of these guys today I agree that this is one of many stops but almost all R powerhouses from L.A.,NY,Chicago,

It don't matter what Joe writes. If its a article on Simeon or Jabari Parker then Darnell will criticize.

Yes, Darnell, it's every day when the likes of Izzo, Roy Williams, Bill Self, Bruce Weber, Coach K and Thad Matta are all in a Chicago gym together on the exact same day. Give me a break.

I do not have a problem with the different opinions on the matter but if you're going to disagree with me at least do so on what I actually said. What I said was that is a very common occurence where there are high-profile recruits that aren't committed yet. Again, I'm sure that very same contigent of coaches went to see the Harrison twins in Fort Bend, TX, and Julius Randle of Plano, TX and Nerleans Noel of Tilton, NH and on down the list, just to name a few. It's being done every day this month at various schools all over this country. In my mind, there is nothing rare or extra-ordinary about it.

Weldon Williams, Phil Henderson, Marty Clark, Chris Collins, Sean Dockery, and John Scheyer. These Coach, are past Chicago area players who have played at Duke. The point I'm making Basketball Fan is that Coach K has been here recruiting many times before. Again, nothing rare or extra-ordinary about it. It's been done many times and we've seen it all before.


Just another day of college basketball recruiting.

Now that we got all that out let's bring the mailbox for the burbs.

The point of the story Darnell, if you read it to begin with, was that this was not ordinary at all in Illinois or the city of Chicago. That was what the story was about -- Chicago. And from all the coaches I have talked to since the Simeon open gym, it's not normal and have never seen that in Chicago.

Darnell, you came up with 4 instances that may or may not attract the same caliber of college coaches. Given that there are over 18,000 high schools in the US, I'd say that's pretty unique under any circumstances.

Really Cleo? Coaches didn't come to town to recruit Derrick Rose or Anthony Davis? Again, nothing new. I recall seing Billy Donovan, Coach K, Johnny Dawkins and a slew of others at various gyms around the city when Sean Dockery was being recruited, just to name one. I saw Bill Self a few times when he was recruiting Sherron Collins. Again, nothing new. The guy from Michigan who was lead recruiter for Juwan Howard tells the story of how he went EVERYWHERE he thought the kid was going to be playing. I could go on. Chicago has seen this same set of circumstances hundreds of times before.

Trust me Cleo, I read with understanding.

I have been to a lot of open gyms in my lifetime as a player,coach,and parent.To see 40 coaches at a high school gym for open gym that's unheard of.It remind me of the movie Blue Chips.The gym at Simeon was full of fans that heard about the open gym came and came to witness seeing some of the top coaches in college basketball and talent at Simeon.What an experience in being a part of that.

Well Joe that was a mailbox for u lolol. Now let's bring on the burbs we have talent in Elgin talent in rockford, Nequa valley oswego I heard has a loaded gun this year, bolingbrook the list goes on and on but Brian and choops are sleeping on players from these schools. From Arie Williams, jabari sandifer, Elliott McGaughy, lance whitaker, miles Simelton, that kid Thomas wilder who was 5'7 last year and I saw him at open gym standing 6'0 . Brown from Plainfield East, Eddie from Plainfield south, all these kids can battle with the top city kids but we don't hear to much about them. The list goes on and on and I can take and make an all-star team with these kids. Yes u know I cant forget Marcus Posely and the main man Fred van fleet .

Darnell I am sure all of those coaches go to every school in the state of Illinois, including Muchin College Prep and Chicago Bulls Prep in the city. I'm sure they go to schools like Bradley-Bourbannais and Tinley Park too for sure because a million coaches definitely go to every high school for an open gym.

All can say is WOW!! JLK, for the third time, it is a very common practice where high-profile uncommitted players are concerned. And yes they recruit ANY high school in the country IF there is an high-profile uncommitted playing at that school.

Again, WOW!!

Is there a mute button on messages on blogs for this Darnell guy?

Hey Tito I thought I was the only one that noticed!

Darnell Joe was talking about what he saw in Chicago he don't care about other state kids. This is Joe were talking about not that guy from C hoops who only talks about certain aau teams certain schools certain people who fill his pockets up and blow up his name. Where talking about JOE the man who was at simeon and witnessed some good stuff and wrote about it. Cut my man joe some slack he's in the game for the love of sports not to be rich and one sided.

I second what Basketball Fan said!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on September 14, 2011 12:10 AM.

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