RedEye

Boys hoops | No. 1 Young, White looking out for No. 2 Simeon

Jahlil Okafor is the No. 1 junior in America and the No. 1 reason Young is in position to be the nation's No. 1 team.

The Dolphins' two out-of-state transfers, 6-foot-4 junior L.J. Peak (South Carolina) and senior point guard Ausar Madison (California), also have made quite a splash in helping Young go 7-1 against nationally ranked teams to ascend to No. 1 in the Tribune Top 20 and No. 2 in USA Today's Super 25.

With so much attention diverted elsewhere, 6-9 junior Paul White's seamless transition from the perimeter to the post has gone largely unnoticed — at least in Chicago, where less than half of Young's games have been played.

"In Chicago we are in a fish bowl and we have these two really, really, really high-profile players (Okafor and Simeon's Jabari Parker)," Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. "Paul is high-profile, but not on the level of those two.

"The national writers, the national people who make judgments really appreciate what Paul has been doing this season. He can do a lot of different things. Being on this team with these players has allowed him to show the different things he can do."

White, who is averaging 15 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocked shots per game, and Young (17-1) have proven themselves nationally. But they know they're not truly the king of the local scene until they beat three-time defending Class 4A champion Simeon. .

Individually, White will be matched against Parker, a Duke recruit and Illinois' reigning Mr. Basketball, when the Tribune's No. 1 meets No. 2 at 8 p.m. Saturday at Chicago State.

Sequels are likely courtesy of the city and state playoffs.

"This is the biggest game we've played," White said. "We have barely played in Chicago. A lot of people may not have seen what we're capable of doing. That is why I'm looking forward to this weekend, to bring the success we've had back to Chicago."

White's national success has shown up in the form of scholarship offers.

Notre Dame, Arizona, Marquette, Illinois, Florida and Minnesota are the schools he hears from most often, and that list should grow if he plays another AAU season before committing.

White said he doesn't have a game plan and tries to stay off the recruiting websites, which rank him from No. 44 to No. 55 in the Class of 2014.

"I've stopped looking at the rankings," White said. "I really don't know what number I'm at. I feel like sometimes my name doesn't stand up there with a lot of people. If I have to prove myself, so be it. I like to prove myself.

"Me and Jahlil, we're like brothers. I make sure I keep him level-headed and he keeps me level-headed. People tend to let things get to their head and get complacent. We're going to continue to stay hungry and work hard. We challenge each other."

No. 2 Simeon vs. No. 1 Young

When: 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Chicago State University.

TV: ESPNU.

Records: Simeon 17-2, Young 17-1.

Mike Helfgot's quick take: Young has been the more impressive team. The Dolphins are 7-1 against nationally ranked teams, with the lone loss coming in overtime against a team that beat Simeon by 29. But Simeon is a better and more confident team now, as evidenced by its 81-68 victory over Oak Hill last week. As big as this game is, rematches in the city and state tournaments are likely.

Head to head

On the wrong end of the first of Simeon's three consecutive state final victories, Young gained a measure of revenge by eliminating the Wolverines from the city playoffs with a 64-50 semifinal-round upset the following winter. Simeon hasn't lost to a Public League team since, a streak of 29 wins. Here's a look at the Simeon-Young matchups in the Jabari Parker era.

Dec. 19, 2009: Young 62, Simeon 55

Sam Thompson, now at Ohio State, had 17 points and 14 rebounds for No. 1 Young. Brandon Spearman, now at Hawaii, had 15 points and freshman Parker 7 rebounds for No. 2 Simeon.

March 20, 2010: Simeon 51, Young 36

Spearman was the star of the state championship game with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Parker had no points or rebounds and 2 assists in 6 minutes.

Jan. 29, 2011: Simeon 60, Young 39

Steve Taylor (Marquette) had 14 points and 10 rebounds as No. 1 Simeon improved to 19-0. Thompson had 16 points and 7 rebounds for Young, which fell to 10-9.

Feb. 16, 2011: Young 64, Simeon 50

Simeon was 23-0 and ranked No. 3 in the USA Today Super 25 before pint-sized Derrick Randolph (20 points) engineered the upset.

Dec. 22, 2011: Simeon 62, Young 55

Jahlil Okafor outscored Parker 20-15, but Kendrick Nunn (19 points) and Steve Taylor (16) were the difference for No. 1 Simeon.

March 6, 2012: Simeon 52, Young 42

Parker had 18 points as Simeon overcame a 3-point halftime deficit to advance to the final of the Argo Sectional. Okafor had 9 in Young's 10th and final loss of the season.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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