Always regarded as one of the top academic high schools in the state, University of Chicago Lab High School has continued to make strides with its basketball program.
The basketball program produced its first two Division I players in recent years when Zeke Upshaw (Class of 2009), who is finishing up his career this year at Hofstra, signed with Illinois State, and Mike Turner (Class of 2011) signed with Northwestern.
U-High has also experienced success as a team, winning regional championships in 2010 and last season.
And now the program has added a big name to lead the Maroons as Marlo Finner, a former prep star in the Chicago Public League and an assistant coach at Simeon the past four seasons, has been named the new head coach.
"I've had a passion and desire to be a head coach," says Finner. "I feel fortunate and excited to have that chance at Lab. It's a great opportunity and challenge for me to prove myself as a head coach, with X's and O's as well as skill development and helping kids become better players."
As part of the ultimate winning program the past four years at Simeon, Wolverines coach Robert Smith is excited that his assistant is getting the chance to run his own program and believes he's more than ready for the challenge.
"He's paid his dues and he's ready to take that next step," says Smith, who watched Finner thrive in an assistant coach's role the past four years at Simeon. "He knows and understands the game so well, and his relationship with kids really stands out. He motivates kids. They are getting a heck of a coach."
Finner takes over a team that returns seven of its top nine players from a Class 2A regional championship team, including 6-8 senior Max Rothschild and junior shooting guard Jordan Moran. In addition, point guard Mikel Mohammed, a transfer from Hales Franciscan, will be a big addition.
Although U-High does make the move up to Class 3A this season, Finner's first objective is to inject a little of what helped make Simeon so successful.
"The talent level is obviously different than at Simeon," says Finner, "but I want to instill and bring the same type of toughness and competitiveness. I want to get them to play hard every night and have the same mindset as we had at Simeon."
The well respected Finner brings a presence to the program. He was a Chicago prep star and the state's leading scorer during his senior year at Phillips, averaging over 30 points a game. Finner played collegiately at Missouri.
Prior to the last four years at Simeon, where he was a part of four state championships, Finner was an assistant at U-High during the 2008-2009 season.
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