Is Aaron Bailey the next Tim Tebow?

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Is Aaron Bailey the next Tim Tebow?

People who criticize Tim Tebow for what they perceive as his over-the-top religious beliefs or his inability to complete forward passes in the NFL often forget that he was the top-rated quarterback in the nation coming out of high school and had a legendary college career at Florida.

Bolingbrook's Aaron Bailey hasn't forgotten.

"I like Tim Tebow. I liked him when he was at Florida," Bailey said. "That's why I wear number 15, Tim Tebow's number. I like his character on and off the field. He's the same type of quarterback I am. I like how he doesn't say no, how determined he is, how he doesn't let anyone or anything bother him, how he always puts Christ first, how he ministers, how he isn't ashamed to talk about it."

Bailey, who quarterbacked Bolingbrook to the Class 8A championship last year, is a very religious person. He never forgets "to give God the glory" whenever he scores a touchdown. Last season, he accounted for 40 touchdowns while amassing over 3,000 yards rushing and passing.

The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder hopes to do as well or even better in 2012 as he seeks to lead Bolingbrook to another state title. And then he will take his act to Illinois, where he is determined to become the catalyst for new coach Tim Beckman's program.

Bailey had more than a dozen scholarship offers, including Notre Dame, Northwestern and Wisconsin. But he chose Illinois over Nebraska "because I liked how they trusted me as a quarterback. I want to be a quarterback in college and that's what they recruited me for. Others recruited me as a wide receiver or athlete."

He is the stereotypical and prototypical quarterback who was born to run a spread offense, what Dan Persa and Zak Kustok were to Northwestern, what Donovan McNabb was to Syracuse, what Terrelle Pryor was to Ohio State, what Tim Tebow was to Florida, what Tommie Frazier was to Nebraska, what Juice Williams was to Illinois.

"He has speed (4.4), size and strength, what colleges look for in spread quarterbacks," Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow said.

"I feel I can fit into any offense, but the spread is pretty good," Bailey said. "I love to break down defenses, go to their weak points. I love to throw on the run. But I made a reputation as a runner because of the style of offense we run."

Ivlow's only advice to Bailey: "Just make your first read and go from there," Ivlow told his quarterback. "If you focus on your second read, you'll mess up. Don't over-think it."

In Bolingbrook's 21-17 victory over Loyola in the state final, Bailey rushed 33 times for 149 yards and scored on runs of 33 and 10 yards and completed 8 of 13 passes for 140 yards.

"I'm a dedicated guy who loves to win. I'm motivated. I don't take failure as an option," he said. "I read the end or outside linebacker. If they crash, I may pull the ball or give it to my running back. I love it when I'm in the open field, when I can decide if I want to cut back or keep running. I like the open field where I can be very creative."

Bailey believes he can be even better in 2012 than he was in 2011. And he can't wait until summer camp in June when he will begin working out with his teammates, particularly fullback Jaden Huff, running back Omar Stover and receivers Brandon Lewis and Chandler Piekarski.

"We're more hungry this year," he said. "We know every team will play against us like it is the state championship game. For us, it is very important to win two state titles in a row. That's our ultimate goal."

Individually, Bailey insists he has "a lot of improving to do," specifically his pocket presence. "I want to stay in the pocket and deliver the ball rather than run. I want to be a better player and work harder and have fun and not over-think things. In football, you can't over-think things. I want to have fun, just like last year," he said.

Bailey said he also can't wait to begin playing for Beckman at Illinois. Nebraska might have been his first choice in the early going but Bailey, his mother and stepfather clearly were impressed by Beckman.

"We prayed about (his decision) as a family," he said. "I felt comfortable about it. Why not play in your home state? It's a great school. I like (Beckman's) demeanor, his attitude, how he gets fired up. I can't wait to play for him. The spread offense is fit for me. I want to make my own name. I think we'll have fun and win some games."

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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