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Published On: Wed, Mar 11th, 2015

Outstanding Freshman take the Tournament

As 68 different teams prepare to take the stage in the 2015 NCAA tournament, so too do the individual players. Increasingly, the players who are put on display here are closer to high school seniors than adults. John Caliparri, the coach of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team, routinely rolls out a lineup that boasts a majority of freshman. With the NBA mandating that all new players must wait a year following high school to enter the draft, many players that would never have stepped foot on a college floor are being recruited to come in and make a major contribution to the team.

The city of Chicago is a breeding ground for these magnificent freshman basketball players. Born on the playground courts of Chicago’s inner-city and raised in the gyms that house prep school games, many of these players are highly sought-after recruits of Division I programs. They end up playing big minutes in their freshman year and that includes the NCAA Tournament.

There are almost countless numbers of college basketball players that have come out of the city of Chicago. Many of the most notable have been successful transitioning from high school to the college game, but also to the professional ranks.

Derrick Rose, 2011 photo/  Keith Allison

Derrick Rose, 2011 photo/ Keith Allison

Derrick Rose has been the point guard for the Chicago Bulls since the 2008-2009 season. Before that however, Rose was still known in Chicago. As the star guard for perennial power for Chicago-Simeon, he routinely dazzled audiences with his athleticism and skill.

In both his junior and senior seasons he led the Wolverines to back to back city titles as well as back to back state championships. Making him one of the most sought after recruits in the nation. This led Rose to Memphis for his freshmen year of college ball. He continued to impress both spectators and scouts throughout that first year and it culminated in the Memphis Tigers being one win from an NCAA title. Following that year he moved on to the NBA where he was taken #1 overall by the Bulls and has enjoyed, for the most part, a successful pro career.

From one Simeon graduate to another, Jabari Parker follows many of the same trends as Derrick Rose did. He grew up on Chicago’s south side and quickly out performed his peers. As a promising young athlete Parker chose to attend Simeon.

While playing at Simeon, Parker was the first freshman to start on the varsity squad for the Wolverines, he wore number 25 in honor of Ben Wilson, and won a state title, just like Derrick Rose; except, Parker won four of them. After his incredible prep school career Parker made the decision to start his college career with Mike Kryzewski at Duke University.

At Duke, Parker continued his status as a top player becoming the first freshman to ever lead Duke in scoring and rebounding. As successful as his freshman year was the Blue Devils ended being ousted in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament. He passed on the rest of his college career and turned pro following the loss to Mercer in the tournament, where he was selected with the second pick by the Milwaukee Bucks.

This year’s tournament will promise at least one of these star players from Chicago and once again he plays on the Duke Blue Devils. Jahlil Okafor, an alumni of Whitney Young high school, has put up big numbers for the Blue Devils all year and, like Parker before him, has earned his way into the discussion for national player of the year.

Averaging close to 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, Okafor also has his team at the forefront of the national discussion. Having been in the top 5 all year Duke is a favorite to grab a #1 seed in the tournament and advance into the late rounds. Duke has a great chance this year; their only drawback being that they only have 8 scholarship players on their bench.

After injuries and the dismissal of guard Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke may have to lean even more on Okafor and the rest of its talented freshman class to carry them through the tournament.

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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About the Author

- Adam Lee is a financial writer who has insightful knowledge in dealing with different financial issues. He tries to help people to get out of difficult financial situations by contributing financial write ups to websites and blogs such as Moneyforlunch.com and Moneynewsnow.com

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