If you asked hoops fans in Chicago in 1995 what the toughest basketball ticket in town to secure would it surprise you if the answer was not Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls? While no doubting his airness Bulls’ games were certainly in short supply the toughest ticket resided at Farragut Academy on Chicago’s west side where prep phenoms Ronnie Fields and Kevin Garnett ruled the courts.
After playing in various all star games on the summer circuit together Kevin Garnett made the decision to join Fields in Chicago from South Carolina for the 1995 season. Garnett a 6′ 11″ All American center and was ranked the number 1 player in the country and Fields who is 6′ 3″ guard and was a fellow All American. Together Garnett and Fields formed one of the most dominant duals in high school basketball history.
While some fans may have been too young to witness the Garnett and Fields’ ariel show live thanks to the wonders of You Tube Ronnie Fields’ legend has only grown since his rise to fame. With a reported 50″ vertical leap Fields’ athleticism was freakish even to fellow ballers. Former U of I great and fellow Chicago prep star Marcus Liberty said “Ronne Fileds was an amazing athlete who could jump out of the gym”.
Kevin Garnett was named Illinois’ Mr. Basketball and was drafted #5 overall in the 1995 NBA Draft directly out of high school. Ronnie Fields duplicated Garnett’s feat when in 1996 achieved Illinois’ Mr. Basketball designation by averaging 32.4 points a game to go along with 12.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 4.5 blocks, 4 steals and 4.5 dunks per game. Fields’ dominant all around game also earned him All American honors. The dual’s story was playing out like like a Hollywood script until a tragic car accident derailed Ronnie Fields’ NBA career.
Faced with similar adversity many people would have been incapable of turning the page but those individuals do not have the inner strength and determination Ronnie Fields posses. Fields credits his mother and grandmother for “teaching me to always move forward.”
Fields took his mentoring to heart because these days Fields will tell you “I really don’t like to live in the past” so while he has no shortage of accomplishments to look back on he much rather tell you about his passion which is “mentoring, developing and helping youth in our city.”
After completing a 19 year basketball career that literally took him across the world Fields who still resides in the Chicagoland area has a full schedule while running 6 youth basketball programs, mentoring an additional 120 kids and taking speaking engagements. However, Fields is quick to point out he is “full in a good way” because he does not consider himself a coach, but prefers to viewed as a “teacher”. Fields who is a student of his craft has closely studied the success of coaching greats from various sports including the San Antonio Spurs’ Greg Popovich, the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick and Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Like the great coaches Fields spends his time studying he takes great pride when “my kids buy into the program” and for Fields that is teaching his players to embrace the team concept and “regardless of the adversity you may be facing…Continue to work hard and always move forward.”
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Also be sure to check out Chicago Sports Homer article: University of Illinois have chance to sign Marcus Liberty again!
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