NCAA Tournament: Chicago Area Players to Watch

NCAA Tournament: Chicago Area Players to Watch
Jabari Parker was named the national freshman of the year. He hopes to add one NCAA Trophy to his four from Simeon

Although no Illinois teams made the NCAA Tournament this year, there are still plenty of area players to root for this year. These are players who actually make an impact on their team and get signficant playing time.

Jabari Parker (Simeon) Duke

Parker is probably the most hyped player out of Chicago since Derrick Rose. Anthony Davis was the number one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, but Parker had a more decorated high school career.

The 6'8 forward can do everything. He leads the Blue Devils in scoring, rebounds, blocked shots (more than double any of his teammates) and hits 36.9 percent on threes. He will likely go first or second in June's NBA Draft.

In high school all he did was start for four consecutive state championship teams. He was just the second player in Illinois History to start for four consecutive state champions. The first was former Illinois player Sergio McClain. Parker was also the 2011 USA Basketball Player of the Year.

David Brown (Roscoe) Western Michigan

Brown is actually from Roscoe near Rockford. He led the Broncos in scoring this season at 19.3 PPG. He is also a 77 percent free throw shooter. In the MAC Championship win over Toledo, he had 32 points and five three pointers.

Sam Thompson (Whitney Young) Ohio State

Thompson has been an important part of Thad Matta's Buckeye success. He put up 20 points and 11 rebounds in last year's opening victory over Iona. He averages 7.6 PPG on the season. Thompson prepped at Whitney Young.  He's got great leaping ability and is point guard Aaron Craft's frequent target on back door alley oops.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. (Zion-Benton) Ohio State

Smith is the Buckeyes second leading scorer. He has been a part of four Consecutive NCAA Tournament teams for the Buckeyes. Their first three seasons, OSU advanced to at least the Sweet 16. In 2012, they went to the Final Four.

Smith played his High School ball at Zion-Benton. As a sophomore he led the Zeebees to the state championship game.

Chasson Randle (Rock Island) Stanford

Using a bit of poetic license, Randle represents the strength of Illinois high school basketball. He is arguably one of the best guards in the country. He established career highs in virtually every category this season. He was first team all Pac-12 and finished second in the Pac-12 at 18.7 PPG. Randle prepped at Rock Island and led the Rocks to their first state title.

Marcus Lewis (Streamwood) Eastern Kentucky

Lewis is the Colonels third leading scorer on a team that features a very balanced attack. He posted 15 points earlier this season in a loss to VCU. He prepped at Steamwood.

Kyle Anderson (Newark) Delaware

Anderson ranks in the top 50 in the nation in three point shooting. He took 72 percent of his shots this year from behind the arc, making 38.6 percent. He averaged 11 points per game this season.

In high school, Anderson led Newark (in Will County) to the 2011 Class 1A state championship.

Ryan Boatright (East Aurora) UConn

Boatright is half of a star backcourt with Shabazz Napier. He averages only 11.8 PPG, 3.5 APG, and 3.5 RPG. He has the potential to go off, leading the Huskies with 21 earlier this season in a win over Memphis. Boatright shared the Illinois Mr. Basketball with Randle in 2011. He averaged 31.2 PPG at East Aurora and scored over 40 points seven times in his senior season.

Fred VanVleet (Rockford Auburn) Wichita State

VanVleet took over the point guard duties this season after being a key reserve in their Final Four run last season. The sophomore from Rockford is the Shockers third leading scorer and leads the team in assists and three point shooting. With VanVleet leading the way, Auburn went 32-3 in 2012 and finished third in the state.

Chris Eversley (Payton College Prep) Cal-Poly

Although Eversley's stats dropped from 2013, he is the heart and soul of Cal-Poly. He led the Mustangs in scoring and rebounding for the second consecutive season. He had 19 points and nine rebounds and hit six of six from the line in CP's first round victory over Texas Southern.

At Payton, Eversley became the first player in the basketball program's history to sign a Division I letter of intent. His father Michael was a seventh round draft pick of the Bulls in 1979.

Mike McCall Jr.(Foreman) St. Louis 

McCall is a well rounded player who is tough on the defensive end for the Billikens. He has started 109 games in four seasons and was second on the team in minutes played this year. He averaged 9.9 PPG and 1.4 SPG this season. McCall struggled in last year's tournament scoring just four points in two games on 1-11 from the field.

In his senior season at Foreman, he led his team to a 26-4 record and a sectional title.

Wayne Blackshear (Morgan Park) Louisville 

Alot was expected from the former McDonald's All-American coming out of Morgan Park. Blackshear was slowed at the beginning of his career with injuries, missing half of his freshman season. Although not one of UL's stars, he could have a breakout game at anytime. He has two 20 points game this season and shoots over 40 percent on threes.

Ben Brust (Mundelein) Wisconsin

Brust has improved his scoring in each of his seasons at Wisconsin. He has gone from a little used bench player as a freshman, to the team leader this season. Brust has made 160 three point field goals the last two seasons. Heis just seven shy of the school record of 220 three pointers made in a career.

This season, the 6'1 guard is averaging 12.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG and shooting 90 percent from the line.

Brust was second team all-state in High School.

Frank Kaminsky (Benet Academy) Wisconsin

After not playing much as a freshman and sophomore, Kaminsky became Wisconsin's leading scorer this season. He has given them a presence inside. The seven footer from Lisle averaged 13.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 1.7 BPG.

He is also a versatile player that can hit the outside shot. Kaminsky connected on 38 percent on threes and 79 percent from the line.

Kaminsky was first team All-State at Benet his senior year.

Lee Skinner (Glenbard East) Wofford

Skinner enrolled at Wofford after spending a year at Fork Union Military Academy. Skinner averaged 11.2 PPG and 8.6 RPG on the season, but has the potential to carry the Terriers on a given night. He lit up conference regular season champion Davidson for 22 points and followed that up with 28 points and 13 rebounds against The Citadel in January.

Dwayne Evans (Neuqua Valley) Saint Louis

Evans led the Billikens in scoring and rebounding for the second year in a row. The 6'6 Senior had led the Billikens in rebounding all four years.

Evans averaged 14.0 PPG and 6.4 RPG. He had seven double doubles this season.

Evans was an All-State player at Neuqua Valley and was named the Daily Herald's Player of the Year as a Senior.

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