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Basketball Mon Jan 07 2013

Simeon's Got ESPN Problems

Before the season, the Simeon boys' basketball team set their sights much higher than a four-peat in the 4A class of Illinois high school basketball -- a "mythical national title." Just over a month into the season, after two bad losses on ESPN, it's clear that there won't be any national title for Jabari Parker and company. And that state title? Not even close to a sure thing.

Though coach Robert Smith feels comfortable enough saying the previously injured and slowed Parker is "back" to his normal all-American self, no one knows what's up with the rest of the team after an 82-53 nationally televised beat-down at the hands of national number one Monteverde (Fla.) this weekend. Kendrick Nunn is banged up and not shooting well. Jaylon Tate is giving the ball away. And counting those three, what other scoring opportunities even exist for Simeon's other top-tier players like Kendall Pollard and D.J. Williams?

Just going to go ahead and throw this out there: Maybe Simeon is traveling too much. The Monteverde loss came in Wheeling, West Virginia at a national showcase. A previous loss in Dallas. A decent win in Memphis. And they aren't done! They'll be back down in Memphis on Saturday, in Springfield, Massachusetts on MLK Day, and in Las Vegas in early February.

It's the cost of being an elite program with an elite player in Parker. Nobody's going to turn down a national promoter who wants to give the school, the coach, and the players more exposure. But in a city loaded with talent, Simeon's travels may take time and energy away from more close-to-home challenges: finding a way to take down the city's two best teams, Morgan Park and Whitney Young.

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