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Basketball Fri Nov 16 2012

Signing Day: Chicago Basketball Preps Flee the City

billygarrettjr.jpgFor a city with arguably the most talented high school basketball scene in America, Chicago has some pathetic college teams. Last season, Chicago State, UIC, DePaul, and Loyola had a combined record of 31-89. And expectations for this season, at each school, aren't exactly high. One would suppose then that an influx of talent, say, from a deep 2013 Chicago-area class could go a long way in shifting the paradigm, perhaps keeping a few coaches employed. After all, what high school kid wouldn't want to play college basketball close to home?

Yet on Wednesday, when the NCAA's early signing period started, talented prospects from the area signed letters of intent to play at far-away places like Southern Methodist, Rice, Santa Clara, and Stetson. Of the seven players who signed with city colleges--two at UIC and Loyola, three at DePaul, and zero at Chicago State--only three are from the area: Quinten Payne (Loyola), Lance Whitaker (UIC), Billy Garrett, Jr. (DePaul).

So who's raiding the pantry? Lots of teams. Coaching staffs around the country have recognized the city's deep pool of basketball talent and have prioritized recruiting in the area, often hiring coaches with connections to Chicago. And it doesn't hurt that these coaches can come in with an easy-to-sell message: why stick around and play for the crap programs in Chicago?

Photo by Chris Williams/Icon SMI

Sometimes it's more complicated. Look at DePaul. Garrett's a capable point guard from a CPL power, Morgan Park, exactly the sort of player head coach Oliver Purnell should covet. (I should note that Garrett's father is an assistant coach at DePaul, so, you know, not a big coup there.) DePaul's other two recruits, however, are nothing special: junior college big men from out of state. But blaming Purnell and his staff for a disappointing 2013 class would be unfair. DePaul made Simeon senior Jabari Parker's final ten--a kind gesture to his hometown school, and a move that may have kept DePaul from actively pursuing realistic recruits. When Parker trimmed his list to five, the Blue Demons had to work with the players still on the board.

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