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Simeon's Jabari Parker shoots a jumper over Young's Paul White. | Patick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
Duke has Simeon senior Jabari Parker in the fold and is hot on the trail of Young big man Jahlil Okafor. The two national superstars are so good that ESPNU was in town to broadcast the game Saturday at Chicago State.
Parker finished with seven points and Okafor had eight. It wasn't exactly the preview of two future pros that the network counted on.
Instead, it was a pair of future Illini that sparkled: Simeon seniors Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn. Tate’s coast-to-coast drive and basket was the key play in the Wolverines’ 44-41 win over Young.
Tate led Simeon (18-2) with 12 points. Nunn provided several highlight plays, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
“That’s what I do, play off Jabari,” Nunn said. “If he has a bad game I pick him up.”
After Tate’s coast-to-coast basket put Simeon ahead by three, Parker missed a dunk that could have sealed the win. That gave Young one last chance to tie it, but Paul White missed a heavily-contested three.
The Wolverines led by 13 early in the third quarter. Young’s two transfer starters, LJ Peak and Ausar Madison, seemed out of sync in the first half.
That changed quickly as Peak scored 14 in the third quarter to ignite the Dolphins’ comeback. His baseline drive and basket tied the game at 32 after three quarters.
“I think our guards just put a lot of pressure on them the whole game,” Nunn said. “They handled it better in the second half after they got more used to it.”
Peak finished with 20 points, and White added eight points and six rebounds for Young (18-2).
“[Peak and Madison] definitely got more into the game after the break,” Parker said. “It was our guard play though, that’s what killed them.”
Okafor shot 3-for-9 from the field and had six rebounds and five blocks. Some foul trouble and Simeon’s zone defense bottled him up in the first half, in the second it was Simeon’s 6-7 center Russell Woods that did the job.
Parker shot 3-for-11 and had five rebounds. White, a 6-9 junior, defended Parker most of the night.
“It’s tough when you’re playing against a lot of people your own size,” Parker said. “[Okafor] is going to be really good though. He has another year of high school left.”
Simeon out-rebounded Young 32-24. The Wolverines are 3-0 without coach Robert Smith on the sideline and seem to have responded well to the challenge.
Young entered the game ranked No. 2 in the country by USA Today, Simeon was No. 10. The teams can possible play twice more this season, in the Public League and the state playoffs.
“We shot 43 percent from the field. We haven’t shot 43 percent all year,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “LJ Peak stepped up for us but unfortunately other people didn’t. It’s just one bump in the road. We’ll get going again tomorrow.”