Greer, Orr await return of Marquise Pryor

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Greer, Orr await return of Marquise Pryor

Tyquone Greer plays basketball at Orr. So the 6-foot-7 junior doesn't command as much attention from fans or media as players from more celebrated schools and more established programs such as Simeon, Whitney Young, Morgan Park, Marshall or Crane.
But Orr coach Louis Adams is beating a drum in Greer's behalf. "He is one of the best players in the state, a Division I recruit. He is one of the top five players in the state. What separates him from other players? He can put the ball on the floor at 6-foot-7," Adams said.
A lot of major Division I colleges are listening. Greer has scholarship offers from Illinois, DePaul, Wisconsin, Bradley, Baylor, Marquette, Arkansas, Florida State and Providence. And he has attracted interest from Miami (Fla.), South Carolina and Nebraska. More can be expected.
Greer got more exposure last weekend as Orr won three games in Detroit. He had 17 points and eight rebounds in a 61-54 victory over East English Village and 23 points and nine rebounds in a 47-36 triumph over Detroit Frederick Douglass. Louis Adams Jr. had 14 points and four assists in a 46-34 decision over Detroit Community.
They'll return to action on Friday when Orr (9-2) plays Westinghouse in a Public League Red-West match-up.
"This is the best team I've had," coach Louis Adams said. "We are good enough to win state if we do things we are supposed to do and stay disciplined."
Greer said the key to success is working together and believing in each other. "As the coach says: 'Trust in each other.' We can only beat ourselves. We are very athletic and we hustle a lot. Last year's team was a shooting team. They lived and died by the three-point shot. But this team is more into going to the basket," he said.
And the Spartans could be even better. Marquise Pryor, a 6-foot-6 senior who is arguably the team's best player, is due to be released from jail on Feb. 22 and Adams expects him to rejoin the team.
Pryor, who averaged 20 points per game last season and was one of the state's leading rebounders, was arrested last September near his Englewood home and later charged as an adult with gun possession. Already facing a gun charge, he pleaded guilty in both cases and entered Cook County's four-month disciplinary program.
"He has been with me since seventh grade. He is a 17-year-old kid. He made a mistake. He deserves a second chance," Adams said. "With him, we can beat Northern Illinois. He makes us one of the best teams in the country. He is a man out there. He could be our best player. He is probably the best rebounder in the country."
Greer said he is looking forward to Pryor's return. Last year, with Greer and Pryor, Orr finished 22-6 and lost to Wheaton St. Francis in the regional. Three years ago, the Spartans were 19-7 and lost to Riverside-Brookfield in the sectional.
"(Pryor) is a big part of this team," Greer said. "With him, we could be undefeated."
As it is, Greer (16 ppg) and 5-foot-10 senior point guard Jamal McDowell (10 ppg, 8 assists) are the only returning starters from a year ago. They blend with 6-foot-8 junior Marlon Jones (12 ppg, 8 rpg), a transfer from Crane, 6-foot-3 junior Louis Adam Jr. (18 ppg), the coach's son, and 5-foot-11 senior Brandon Clemons (8 ppg), a transfer from Simeon.
Adams Jr., a transfer from Thornton, has offers from DePaul, Bradley and TexasPan-American. He backed up Greer by contributing 39 points in the three-game sweep in Detroit last weekend.
Other contributors are 6-foot-4 junior Armani Ousley and 5-foot-11 junior Jerion Jackson.
Greer's first love was football. A native West Sider, he started playing football with the Vikings youth football team in third grade. He played quarterback and wide receiver. Several high schools recruited him to play football. He opted for St. Patrick. He dreamed of being the next Tom Brady. He wanted to go to Ohio State to play football.
In fact, Ohio State and Baylor are his dream schools--for basketball. "I have been watching Ohio State since I was little. I really wanted to go to Ohio State for football. They haven't offered from basketball. I'm hoping they will. But they haven't shown any interest. It is disappointing. I have another year to show them what I've got," he said.
An unanticipated growth spurt turned Greer's interest from football to basketball. He grew from 6 feet to 6-foot-5 in seventh grade. As he got taller, he began to think basketball was the sport for him, not football. All of a sudden, football was too slow paced for him. He liked to run up and down the basketball court.
"In seventh grade, I started to realize I was pretty good at basketball," Greer said. "I was playing football and basketball at the same time but I committed to basketball in eighth grade. I played football for one year in high school, then stopped because I liked basketball better. And I was committed to St. Patrick but I met coach Adams at an all-star game and transferred to Orr after my freshman year."
Greer's idol is NBA star Kevin Durant. No wonder. "He is tall and can do all the things I can do...dribble, shoot, a lot of things that people my size can't do," he said.
"I'm 100 percent better than last year. I am more aggressive and more physical. I attack the basket more. I'm growing as a player. I'm smarter on the court and more mature on and off the court."
And if Marquise Pryor returns on Feb. 22, there is no telling how much better Greer and his teammates will be. Stay tuned.

Preview: White Sox aim for 20th win in series finale vs. Red Sox on CSN+

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Preview: White Sox aim for 20th win in series finale vs. Red Sox on CSN+

The White Sox aim for win No. 20 in their series finale against the Boston Red Sox tonight on Comcast SportsNet Plus. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Henry Owens (0-0) vs. Erik Johnson (0-0)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

David Ortiz paces Red Sox past Carlos Rodon, White Sox

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David Ortiz paces Red Sox past Carlos Rodon, White Sox

He may be headed for retirement, but David Ortiz doesn’t intend to cruise out the door.

The slugger put his team ahead with a fifth-inning home run Wednesday night off White Sox starter Carlos Rodon and the Boston Red Sox didn’t look back. Ortiz drove in three runs and the Red Sox scored twice more late to snap a three-game losing streak for the White Sox, who fell 5-2 in front of 14,383 at U.S. Cellular Field. Rodon’s record dropped to 1-4 as he allowed three earned runs in six innings. Jose Abreu homered, but that was all for the White Sox, who were stymied by seven sharp innings from Clay Buchholz.

Trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, Ortiz made Rodon pay for a two-out walk to Xander Bogaerts, who reached base in his first four plate appearances. Ortiz ripped a 1-1 fastball from Rodon, who walked three, out to deep right field to give Boston a 3-2 advantage.

It was the sixth homer of the season and 509th of his career for Ortiz, 40.

But he wasn’t done yet.

Ortiz followed a pair of one-out singles in the seventh inning with one of his own against Zach Duke. He beat a White Sox shift and dribbled a single through an open spot on the left side of the infield to drive in run No. 22 on the season and put Boston ahead 4-2.

Ortiz, who announced he will retire after the season, is hitting .311.

The Red Sox added another run in the eighth inning on an RBI single by Josh Rutledge. Bogaerts produced the team’s first run with a two-out single in the third off of Rodon.

The White Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Abreu took Buchholz deep to end a homerless stretch of 61 plate appearances that dated back to April 19. But Buchholz settled in and retired 19 of the last 22 batters he faced, including 10 in a row.

Buchholz limited the White Sox to two runs and three hits while striking out six.

Jose Abreu's hot streak a good sign for White Sox

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Jose Abreu's hot streak a good sign for White Sox

Jose Abreu made it official on Wednesday night -- he’s on fire.

Everyone around the White Sox has known this hot streak would soon arrive. They saw signs in Toronto and again in Baltimore as he began to drive the ball to right with authority. They heard the sounds his lumber produced when he smacked another pitch.

But the first baseman confirmed it in the first inning Wednesday when he snapped a 61-plate appearance homeless streak with a towering two-run homer to left. And the idea that the White Sox have played as well as they have without consistent production from Abreu has the club very optimistic about its chances to contend this season.

“It’s awesome,” leadoff man Adam Eaton said. “You know it’s going to happen. He’s never not going to get going and be the type of hitter he is.”

“You’ve seen the month we’ve had and realistically without him producing a tremendous amount, without really the hitters producing a tremendous amount. The pitching staff has really carried us.”

Abreu has been a dominant force in the lineup in each of his two previous seasons. The 2014 American League Rookie of the Year has produced 9.3 Wins Above Replacement in his first two seasons, according to baseball-reference.com.

But until this last week, Abreu hasn’t been himself.

He hit .229/.303/.354 in April with 13 RBIs, the fewest he’s ever had in the opening month of the season. He chased pitches that weren’t his and got away from his game, rifling inside fastballs to right field. Yet the lengthy slump from a player who hit .303/.364/.540 with 66 homers and 208 RBIs in his first two seasons hasn’t dramatically hurt the White Sox, who entered Wednesday with the best record in the AL.

Abreu said the stretch reminds him of 2009 when he got out to a slow start and his team, the Elefantes de Cienfuegos, continued to play well in the Occidental Division of the Cuban National Series. Despite Abreu’s early slump, Cienfuegos finished in second place in the division and earned a postseason birth as it did in each of Abreu’s final eight seasons.

“I’ve had this moment before in Cuba,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I was struggling and the team was winning games.

“We won that year. That’s the same kind of feeling as I’m having right now because we’re getting all together, working hard and pulling in the same direction and that’s probably something God has for us for the season and I’m happy.”

Manager Robin Ventura might like similar results from this situation. Abreu finished the 2009 season hitting .399/.555/.822 with 30 homers and 76 RBIs in 393 plate appearances. Projected out to 600 plate appearances, Abreu would wind up with 45 round-trippers, or nine more than his career high.

No matter what kind of numbers Abreu produces, it’s clear he’s in a better position to do it after a slow start. From April 25 through Tuesday, Abreu hit .406/.486/.531 with nine RBIs in 37 plate appearances. While he hadn’t gone deep in that span, Abreu walked five times and struck out only three.

Abreu said it’s a function of improved timing. He feels right when he drives the ball on a line to right as he did throughout a four-game series in Baltimore. Those are the signs Ventura has seen plenty of lately.

“It sounds better,” Ventura said. “His hands work better. It just seemed like he could pull the inside pitch a little better and drive some more to right field. He was working on it, probably gave up a couple of at-bats trying to find it, knowing it might not look right. We could tell what he was trying to do, and I think it has helped him as we got home, how it feels for him.”

Eaton looks forward to what it can mean for the White Sox. The offense entered Wednesday with 45 runs in the past eight games after it produced 62 in the first 21.  

“He stays inside the ball really well, he goes the other way really well,” Eaton said. “That’s where his power is and somebody hangs one, he’ll pull it

“When he starts doing that and barreling balls the other way, and they throw a 95-mph heater on the inside part of the plate, he shoots it to right with authority and that’s when you know Jose is going.

“It should be interesting once he gets going and gets in a rhythm.”