This new ongoing column here on WARR comes with all due respect to New York City and Pete Axthelm, who first used this column’s title to describe the outsized impact the NYC had on basketball once upon a time.
Also, respect to Oakland and one of the best basketball jerseys ever, as well.
It has to be admitted, though, by all metro areas from The Town to the City that Never Sleeps that Chicago — simply The City to so many of us here — is making the basketball world spin on its metaphorical finger right now.
At every level of the game — from our precocious high school freshmen to our can’t miss college prospects to our already-dominant college-level products and of course our many pro representatives — you can see the Chi staring back at you and showing out on the court.
The City Game, our city’s game, makes basketball dribble to its beat and in this space you’ll get reminded of all the good things bubbling up in the city from its high school and college teams as well as check-ins and updates from those who’ve left the Go and are still going.
It is here where I ask all you readers to help keep us up on what’s really going on with The City Game. We’ll catch a lot here, but if you have a relative, a neighborhood product, a newcomer at your Alma mater or just a person in the headlines you are really feeling and want to see get some shine, feel free to leave a comment on this or any upcoming City Game column. Also you can hit up Regal Radio on Twitter or Facebook or send any story leads to email@example.com.
Of course, this past week the big story was the city’s top basketball recruits — Whitney Young’s Jahlil Okafor and Curie’s Cliff Alexander chief among them — declaring their respective commitments to play college ball at Duke and Kansas.
A lot of hopes remain with these two, both top five recruits in the nation — Okafor stands currently as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2014 — who plan on making an impact at hallowed basketball institutions, but a lot of heartbreak will last too for the schools who they passed over.
Let me say that there should be much less attention fanfare given to these decisions in general — you eliminate the fanfare, the live teleconferences with ESPN and all that, and you won’t get this kind of thing that Alexander did to angry up the blood. That said, Alexander was just having fun and for anyone who really got their blood boiling by what he did (and there were plenty): ya’ll really need to get your lives in order, or get some sort of life to put in order.
That’s not going to be the case for many college students, I admit that, all they really care about is whether their team will win or not. I do feel bad for those Orange Krushers, actual and would-be, and the Illini Nation (at least those who can put Alexander’s decision in perspective).
U of I seems to be stuck in this unenviable position where it, by being the biggest and most storied school in the state where Chicago calls home, can draw the elite recruits from the city to campus and it is given a platform to pitch itself but it has a huge challenge year after year in competing against the Kansases, Dukes and Kentuckys of the world — each of whom came in the Chicago area and swept away with the top three Class of ’14 recruits from here: Alexander, Okafor (Duke) and Tyler Ulis (Kentucky).
If you’re such a recruit, how can you refuse any of those programs? How can you essentially chose John Groce over John Calipari, Bill Self or Coach K, with his completely-established hometown cred? Illinois also has this building history of recruits either de-commiting or playing them to the side. Hard not to get sensitive to being slighted after a while.
Plus, nothing succeeds like success. Duke, Kansas and Kentucky were in Chicago last week in their showcase of champions, the Illini again play at the United Center this season, but against UIC. Who’s being paired with who here? And what grouping is the likes of Alexander and Okafor going to ride with in order to get in the express lane to the NBA? We know for sure now, but we always knew.
U of I will have to get inventive if they want to get in a position where they’re hats are not being used as props for prep stars’ glory. Maybe at some point they can pick and choose from the best high schoolers, but they won’t be able to use the elite 5-star recruits to get to that point.
Some in their fanbase probably thinks it comes down to kissing ass, but it really comes down to good scouting, looking beyond the surface of the Chicago high school scene and continually farming others in and out of the state of Illinois. Also, you just got to win. 2005 was a long time ago, these kids making decisions now were 10 then. Lets move on.
Stat of the week
Jabari Parker’s blazing start in Durham may have provided the best evidence that he made the smart choice last year when he was the center of recruiting attention. Moreso than his unprecedented continued streak of 20 point games to start his freshman year, his 66.7 percent shooting from 3-point range (13-20) so far is amazing.
Overall, Parker is shooting 59 percent from the field while averaging nearly 23 points a game, just under nine assists and 2.5 assists for the 4-1 Blue Devils.
CBSSports.com Freshman of the Week: Jabari Parker (CBSSports.com)
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and Kyle Means @Wrk_Wrt