--Joe Henricksen has an interesting blog post up on the Illinois Warriors, an elite AAU program that helped Naperville Central's Drew Crawford gain national exposure. Neuqua Valley forward Dwayne Evans currently plays for the Warriors.
--We didn't get a chance to link to this last week: Mike O'Toole, the former head coach at Joliet Catholic, will return to Neuqua as an assistant to Todd Sutton. A spot opened up on Sutton's staff with Bob Vozza's move to Metea Valley.
Among the Raptors the player most sought after was shooting guard Anthony Parker, who is in the last year of a contract paying him $4.5-million this season. That combined with his versatility, defensive steadiness and three-point shooting made him attractive to several playoff-bound teams, according to league sources.
The Raptors, however, are interested in signing Parker to a new deal this summer if terms can be reached, and weren't willing to part with him for a player under a longer-term contract unless the returning player was an upgrade.
Neuqua Valley, the top seed in the Oswego East Sectional, was assigned to the Batavia Regional and will face the winner of the Naperville North-Benet opening round game, the IHSA announced Friday. In order to win a regional championship, the Wildcats may have to defeat No. 9 Batavia on its own floor.
As a regional host, No. 2 Naperville Central will enjoy home-court advantage. But in order to advance, it could have to beat seventh-seeded West Aurora for a third time this season.
In the East Aurora Regional, No. 12 Waubonsie Valley will take on No. 21 Wheaton North for the right to face fifth-seeded Plainfield North.
If the brackets unfold true to form and all top-four seeds survive the regionals, Neuqua would meet East Aurora in one sectional semifinal, and Naperville Central would play Bolingbrook in the other. Regional play begins March 2.
Candace Parker, who is set to become a mother in a few months, told The New York Times that she plans to play this season in Los Angeles.
"My whole career has been trying to please people in basketball," Parker, a 22-year-old newlywed, said Friday in a telephone interview. "Now it's time to please myself." She added, "For me, family has always come first."
Parker, who was married in November to her longtime boyfriend, Sacramento Kings forward Shelden Williams, is due in the spring. The W.N.B.A. season starts in June and runs through September.
"I'm very stubborn," she said. "I feel like I'm going to play this season."
Shelden Williams sat out Sunday's game in Toronto with a strained left wrist, meaning the Kings power forward didn't play against Anthony Parker, his brother-in-law. That didn't stop Raptors forward Kris Humphries - nursing his own fractured right fibula - from messing with his teammate and sounding a bit like Lloyd Christmas. The Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk does a nice job of setting the scene here:
In these long-season dog days, harmless locker-room nonsense is perhaps essential. Humphries, to that end, asked Anthony Parker, the Raptors shooting guard, about Parker's famous basketball-star sister.
"Did Candace pass any messages on for me?" he wondered.
"She did say she hopes you get better," said Anthony Parker.
Said Humphries, smiling: "So, I still have a chance?"
He was speaking of romance jokingly, one assumes, although with Humphries you're never quite sure if the tongue is knowingly inserted in the cheek. Either way, the jokester was informed that Candace is married to Kings forward Sheldon Williams and expecting the couple's first child. Humphries let out a dramatic sigh.
The Sacramento Bee recently caught up with Raptors guard Anthony Parker and the Naperville Central graduate deftly handled this Q&A session. The Bulls are in Toronto Wednesday night, and the Raptors visit the United Center on Jan. 23. Until then, check out the beginning of Scott Howard-Cooper's piece:
How often do you get asked about your sister Candace Parker and your brother- in-law Shelden Williams?
Often. Especially the day that we play Shelden in basketball. But it's fun, though. I enjoy it. You don't get sick of being asked about your relatives, especially your sister? It's one thing to have a brother-in-law in the NBA. But do you get a lot of people throwing the Candace Parker card in your face in an unflattering way?
Occasionally you hear that, when you're visiting other arenas. ... But it's fun. It doesn't get to me like maybe people think it would. What do you hear most often?
"Your sister's better than you." Not very original.
No. It's the same thing every time. What does she say about all this? Does she feel bad?
No. ... We joke, and we laugh about it. That's where it ends.
If you are suffering from burnout on this story, hang with us, Anthony's comments are on point and worth a look.
"I think, for one thing, if most people put themselves in that situation, they might react the same way," the Toronto Raptors guard said Thursday. "A lot of talk was saying that she took the bait or whatever, and I don't see it like that. I think taking the bait is if somebody elbows you or yells at you, and you react. I think she was in a situation where she had to defend [herself]."
p.s. Since AP is out there playing hoops with civilians, his right hand must be feeling good after his surgery in May.
In this breakdown of the Tornoto roster after the Raptors traded for Jermaine O'Neal, 3 In The Key writes that one of the big weaknesses in the starting lineup is Naperville Central graduate Anthony Parker. Well, sort of.
It's not Anthoy Parker that is the problem per se, but the combination of Parker and Jamario Moon that causes TSN's basketball blogger concern.
And make no mistake, even with a fully healthy O'Neal, this team still needs upgrades.
The first, and most well documented in this space, comes on the wing. Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon are fine NBA players, and either one would make a great NBA starter if flanked by more talent alongside on the perimeter. Together, though, they make up one of the meekest starting-swing combos in the NBA. Neither one creates much havoc with his offensive game and neither one demonstrated much stopping power last season as the Raptors were routinely torched by opposing big guards and small forwards.
Say this for Bulls general manager John Paxson: he's starting to branch out from the list of usual suspects when it comes to coaching candidates. Of course, he and the organization kind of backed themselves into this corner by hemming and hawing over Mike D'Antoni and Doug Collins, both of whom became imaptient with the Bulls for various reasons.
I would have liked to see the Bulls go after Flip Saunders, seeing as they already waited this long, though it doesn't look like he's on their short list. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the next Bulls coach will be Dwayne Casey, Vinny Del Negro or Chuck Person. None of those names lights a fire under me. But if whoever takes over the reins gets the team back to the playoffs in a hurry, then all this probably will have been worth the wait.