By Colleen Kane, Chicago Tribune reporter
8:53 PM CST, January 25, 2013
The looming matchup with top-ranked Young on Saturday wasn't Jabari Parker's biggest distraction Friday night.
The Simeon forward said he was more preoccupied by senior night activities during the Wolverines' 73-54 home victory against Harlan.
"The thing that did distract me is it being one of my last games here," Parker said. "My career is coming to an end, and I really haven't been focused on that because I've been so focused on returning (from a foot injury), coming back and playing with the team, trying to get ready. So I'm trying to cherish the moment and have gratitude for my team and being here with Simeon."
The Duke-bound Parker had 27 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, and Illinois-bound Kendrick Nunn added 17 points, five rebounds and three steals in a win that clinched the outright Public League Red-South title. Simeon (17-2, 9-0) surprised the pair at halftime by announcing their jerseys will be retired and presenting them with framed uniform tops while they stood at midcourt with their parents. Simeon honored seven seniors with framed posters.
"It's definitely an honor," Nunn said. "It's just a blessing. I have to keep working hard and hopefully will get to the next level."
Parker and Nunn are the only current Simeon players to be members of the last three state championship teams. They also played for the USA Basketball junior national team together.
"They're special, real good kids," said assistant coach Leonard Thomas, who is filling in for Robert Smith while Smith serves a four-game suspension. "It's been a great four years coaching those guys. They make me proud to be a Simeon coach."
Simeon seniors Russell Woods and Rickey Norris each added 12 points for the Wolverines, and Torian Pearson scored 16 for Harlan (8-12, 3-3). Norris played much of the second half for point guard Jaylon Tate, who rested because of headaches from hitting his head during a fall against Bogan on Wednesday. Thomas expects Tate to be ready for Young.
No. 2 Simeon meets No. 1 Young at Chicago State at 8 p.m. Saturday in game that will be televised on ESPNU.
"It was just getting prepared," Nunn said of Friday's game. "We were working on little things, boxing out, working on the defense we're going to play. We've just got to stay consistent."
Player of the game: Jabari Parker, Simeon, 27 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks.
Key performers: Simeon — Kendrick Nunn, 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals; Russell Woods, 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks; Harlan — Torian Pearson, 16 points; Perry Willis, 12 points, 7 rebounds.
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