From Mark Aguirre to Julian Wright, at last count, a total of 238 Illinois products have competed in professional basketball in this country.Have you ever heard of Jack Dwan, Gene Dyker, Dan Godfread, Leary Lentz, Gene Stump or Giff Roux?Maybe not. But you've heard of Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Cazzie Russell, Kevin Garnett, Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette and Juwan Howard.According to a survey by Basketball-Reference.com, there are 23 Illinois products currently playing in the NBA -- Tony Allen (Crane), Shannon Brown (Proviso East), Will Bynum (Crane), Brian Cardinal (Tolono Unity), Brian Cook (Lincoln), Eddy Curry (Thornwood), Melvin Ely (Thornton), Kevin Garnett (Farragut), Juwan Howard (Vocational), Andre Iguodala (Springfield Lanphier), Othyus Jeffers (Hubbard), Shaun Livingston (Peoria Central), Corey Maggette (Fenwick), JaVale McGee (Hales Franciscan), Nazr Mohammed (Kenwood), Jannero Pargo (Robeson), Anthony Parker (Naperville Central), Quentin Richardson (Whitney Young), Derrick Rose (Simeon), Iman Shumpert (Oak Park), Bobby Simmons (Simeon), Dwyane Wade (Richards) and Julian Wright (Homewood-Flossmoor).But Illinois products helped to build the foundation of the NBA in the 1940s and 1950s. Remember George Mikan, Sweetwater Clifton, Joe Graboski, Harry Gallatin, Dike Eddleman, Andy Phillip, Wally Osterkorn and Irv Bemoras?How about an All-Star team from the 1940s and 1950s? Sweetwater Clifton (Du Sable), George Mikan (Quigley), Andy Phillip (Granite City), Harry Gallatin (Roxana), Johnny Kerr (Tilden).How about the 1960s? Cazzie Russell (Carver), George Wilson (Marshall), Tom Hawkins (Parker), Jerry Sloan (McLeansboro), Don Nelson (Rock Island).Or Don Ohl (Edwardsville), Dave Robisch (Springfield), Donnie Freeman (Madison), Flynn Robinson (Elgin) and Jim Brewer (Proviso East)?How about the 1970s? Quinn Buckner (Thornridge), Maurice Cheeks (Du Sable), Doug Collins (Benton), Jack Sikma (St. Anne) andRickey Green (Hirsch). Or Sonny Parker (Farragut), Dan Issel (Batavia), Steve Kuberski (Moline), Kevin Porter (Du Sable) and Corky Calhoun (Waukegan).The 1980s? Mark Aguirre (Westinghouse), Terry Cummings (Carver), Hersey Hawkins (Westinghouse), Isiah Thomas (St. Joseph) andGlenn "Doc" Rivers (Proviso East).Or Eddie Johnson (Westinghouse), Rod Higgins (Thornton), Craig Hodges (Rich East), Ken Norman (Crane) and Kevin Gamble (Springfield Lanphier).The 1990s? Nick Anderson (Simeon), Juwan Howard (Vocational), Kevin Garnett (Farragut), Tim Hardaway (Carver) and Antoine Walker (Mount Carmel).Or LaPhonso Ellis (East St. Louis Lincoln), Michael Finley (Proviso East), Kendall Gill (Rich Central), Anthony Parker (Naperville Central) and Troy Hudson (Carbondale).The past decade? Derrick Rose (Simeon), Shannon Brown (Proviso East), Dwyane Wade (Richards), Andre Iguodala (Springfield Lanphier) andCorey Maggette (Fenwick).Or Quentin Richardson (Whitney Young), Bobby Simmons (Simeon), Brian Cook (Lincoln), Brian Cardinal (Tolono Unity) and Will Bynum (Crane).Who will be the next Illinois products to play in the NBA? Likely Kentucky's Anthony Davis (Perspectives), Ohio's D.J. Cooper (Seton), Illinois' Meyers Leonard (Robinson) and Simeon's Jabari Parker.Of course, this survey doesn't take into account the dozens of former Illinois high school basketball stars who didn't earn steady employment in the NBA and opted to play overseas -- in Europe, Israel, South America, Japan and Australia. Many of them, including Lloyd Batts (Thornton, Cincinnati), James Jackson (Crane, Minnesota), Audie Matthews (Bloom, Illinois), Melvin McCants (Mount Carmel, Purdue), Deon Thomas (Simeon, Illinois), Rashard Griffith (King, Wisconsin), Tom Kleinschmidt (Gordon Tech, DePaul), Kiwane Garris (Westinghouse, Illinois), Mark Miller (Westinghouse, Illinois-Chicago) and Cedrick Banks (Westinghouse, Illinois-Chicago), have enjoyed successful and profitable careers.You could make an outstanding all-star team out of that group, couldn't you?
If there's a more maddening player in the Eastern Conference than Nikola Mirotic, that player's psychologist should be getting paid double considering Bulls fans have been talking to themselves about Mirotic so much over the past three years.
And as they've reached no conclusion on Mirotic, along with many other sage minds, only one thing is for certain: March is his month.
Meaning it's the month where it becomes maddening to watch him play and probably equally as maddening for his teammates who've watched his inconsistencies for the better part of four months or so.
Averaging 16.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 41 career March games, it's the only full month where Mirotic averages in double figures for his career—meaning there's a lot of inconsistencies to wade through to get to the proverbial pot of gold.
In 2014-15, he emerged as the NBA's best fourth-quarter scorer that month when the Bulls were without both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Last season, he came back fresh after an appendectomy took a big chunk of his year.
This year, there's no big macro reason. He's just playing definitively, making quick movements and it's paying off as his two best scoring games took place within a four-day span (28 against both Detroit and Milwaukee).
"Right now, you see I'm shooting without hesitation," Mirotic said to CSNChicago.com. "Just catch and shooting. It's a great feeling."
No word on whether Mirotic hears the fans in the arena or the twitterverse screaming for him to ditch the pump fake that he actually admits it got in his head, but this season has been a roller coaster of the most dramatic kind, as the Bulls are still vying for playoff positioning with eight games remaining in the regular season.
"Sometimes, especially when I'm reading you guys (media), Niko pump fake, pump fake," Mirotic said with a smile. "Okay, no more pump fakes, just fire that ball. I'm laughing because you guys are (right)…that's true. You guys want me to shoot. It doesn't look good when you pump fake every time you have a wide-open shot."
Being penciled in as a training camp starter due to the need for floor spacing, Taj Gibson quickly outplayed Mirotic for the power forward spot. Then Mirotic's up and down, down and up, season began.
Kind of like his pump fake that often drew more defensive attention for it's predictability than effectiveness, stability has been hard to find for a player many have been waiting on since the day he was drafted in 2011.
"I know the defenses are ready for my pump fake so now just like, shoot the ball," Mirotic said. "I've been spending a lot of hours working on my shot before practice, after practice, trying to catch the feeling."
Better late than never or too late?
That's the question surrounding Mirotic and he knows it, being aware of his status as a restricted free-agent-to-be, along with his trade value a month ago being so low, the Bulls could only get a future second-round pick for him from teams.
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With the Bulls having so many questions going into the future, who knows if they want to go through the up-and-down, down-and-up cycle with a talented player yet again, with a big-time financial commitment.
In a sense, Mirotic knows he's left plenty on the table as far as his play through the years and seems to be content with playing with a sense of freedom as the season concludes, whether he's back with the Bulls or not for next year and beyond.
"I just wanna leave a good impression for the Bulls," Mirotic said. "Whatever decision they make. It's been a pleasure. A lot of people dream to be here, I was one of those guys when I was in Europe. I was really like, I wanna go there and play for the Bulls. The history they have. For me, it's a dream come true. Whatever decision they make, I make, whatever. I don't know. The years here have been great. I know it's been up and down. It's been a pleasure and I just wanna finish right."
PHOENIX – If the Bears intend to cut ties with Deiondre' Hall after the first-year cornerback become involved in an ugly police incident last weekend, they have not indicated their decision yet. They have, however, begun looking at a possible position change for Hall as they gather information on events of last Saturday night.
Hall was tasered by police in Cedar Falls, Ia., after he and a former Northern Iowa University teammate were allegedly involved in a fight at a bar. Hall was arrested and cited for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and interference. Hall allegedly spit in the officers' faces, according to an affidavit, police saying that an officer used a Taser on Hall's legs in order to get him into a squad car.
GM Ryan Pace confirmed that the team is still gathering information and said, "it's just [that] the circumstances are a little disappointing, to be honest with you. We're aware of it, it's just kind of gathering more facts as we go forward."
Pace has spoken to Hall and said that the team wanted to investigate thoroughly, "but the circumstances surrounding it are obviously disappointing."
In the meantime, the 2016 fourth-round draft choice is slated to be tried at safety when the team convenes for the start of offseason work. Hall played the position in college, and has traits that the Bears value at the safety position.
"One of Deiondre's best traits is his ball skills, his ball clock, the ability to time the pass breakup," Pace said. "He's very natural at playing safety and that's one of the reasons we drafted him, because he has the versatility to do both. That's something we're going to talk about this offseason and he could start taking some reps there in the offseason program."
Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who missed all of last season following arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-August, will stay at cornerback.