2011-12 3A State Runner-Up

2011-12 Class 4A - 4th Place






Boys Junior High Basketball in Chicago’s South Suburbs Gearing Up

The south suburbs of Chicago is gearing up for another exciting season of junior high basketball.  The south suburbs are home to some great basketball talent.  They have produced some top talent, the likes of NBA players Eddie Currie and Julian Wright in recent years.   The high schools such as Bloom Township, Homewood-Flossmoor, Hillcrest, and Thornton have rich basketball traditions, and loads of talent.  The junior high schools that feed these programs have done a solid job. 

This season’s entry of Flossmoor’s Parker Junior High into the state tournament mix at 4A should make the competition much stiffer for teams wishing to make the trip downstate.   Last season saw Country Club Hills’ Southwood 7th grade team making the trip downstate and taking 4rd place in the 4A Class.  In the 3A Class, McKinnley Junior High in South Holland was the State Runner-up, and should be the favorite to make the trip again this season in 3A.

The 8th grade teams to watch this season:

McKinnley Junior High – As the Returning State Runner-up  they will once again be the team to watch in the 3A Class.

Southwood Middle School – Southwood of Country Club Hills will be a team to watch.  They return a talented group of players.

Parker Junior High – Parker’s 8th grade team is expected to be a fierce competitor to make the trip downstate.  Even though they did not play in the tournament last season they ended the year with only two losses.

Colin Powell – Colin Powell of Matteson has become a formidable opponent.  Last season the team played great team basketball and finished the season with a 10-2 record.

Forest Trails – Forest Trails in Park Forest is a consistent force.  Their 8th grade team should be a strong contender again this season.  They ended last season with a 10-3 record.

James Hart Junior High – James Hart from Homewood, should be a contender this season.  Hart played well the in their final games, and should have gone deeper into the tournament last season.

Washington Junior High – Washington from Chicago Heights had a strong team last season.   They lost last season in the Finals of the Sectional to Southwood. 




When Transferring High Schools can Backfire


You are a standout basketball player that has aspirations of playing Division I basketball.  The challenge is that the high school that you go to isn’t well known.  So you think about transferring into another one to get greater basketball exposure.    Unfortunately, I think this happens all across the country.  Kids selecting high schools for athlete purposes over academics, however that is a topic for another article.  This article is about transferring from a lesser known school, to another school to boost exposure.

Just last week a promising point guard Jaylon Tate announced that he was committing to the University of Illinois.  You may want to know what does this have to do with the topic.  Everything…Jaylon Tate is an outstanding point guard.  He began his high school career at St. Francis De Lasalle in Chicago.  A Catholic college prep high school located in Chicago. 

While at De Lasalle, Jaylon Tate played Varsity his first two years and was attracting recruiting attention from some high-majors, while being ranked as one of the top 150 players.  He then made the decision to transfer prior to his Junior year, to well known Simeon High School.  Simeon, a Chicago powerhouse, is known for producing top Division I basketball players.  Simeon is a four time State Champion, plays a national schedule, and produced Derrick Rose, Nick Anderson, and a laundry list of Division I players.  It is also the high school for two other top 100 basketball players, Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn.  It makes logical sense as to why a top point guard would want to transfer in to play at Simeon.  Playing at Simeon will help increase the interest among high majors, right?

Jaylon Tate transferred in and went from being the starting point guard at De Lasalle to the sixth man at Simeon.  His playing time was reduced, and as a result he fell off the radars of many high major programs.  The transfer was a move that hurt his recruiting status.  It appears the move which was thought to increase the interest in him, actually did the opposite.  Smith the head coach of Simeon is quoted by Scott Powers of ESPNChicago as saying…

"I think last year coming off the bench and not playing many minutes kind of knocked him out of the radar.”

The happy ending of the story, is that Jaylon was able to earn a scholarship to the University of Illinois.   He worked extremely hard to get himself recognized again.  He played extremely well in the State tournament which helped.  However, not everyone is going to be this fortunate.  Tate went from receiving interest from high majors, to only gaining the interest of mid-majors.

You may be saying, okay, mid-majors isn’t bad.  No, it’s not, but here is the point.  Here is a kid who while playing at a lesser known school his Freshman and Sophmore year was ranked among the top 150 players, and received interest from high majors.  Went to a more popular school, lost playing time, and fell to become  a mid-major prospect, and had to work back to earn the scholarship at a high major.

Think about how things would have been had he not transferred, and had spent his last season blossoming under the system that he had learned for two years.  Instead of having to learn a whole new system, and dealing with having to move up the depth chart.

I think that people hear about the happy endings of transfers, and do not realize that there is another side, that may not be as well publicized.  Parents and players, let this be a warning.  Transferring into a well known high school to boost your interest, may not be the best move.   What hurt Tate was playing time, having to come off the bench.  It is better to start on a lesser known team, then to be a reserve on a better team.


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