Noah comes out on top in matchup vs. Varejao

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Noah comes out on top in matchup vs. Varejao

CLEVELANDPrior to Wednesday nights win over the Cavaliers, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke in glowing terms about Cleveland center Anderson Varejao, the leagues leading rebounder on the young NBA regular season.Varejao is playing off the charts. Those rebounding numbers are staggering. I think over the last five games, its 19 rebounds a game, 18 points, so hes scoring, too. Its not just the rebounds. Scoring, playmaking, toughness, just doing so many different things. Jos going to have his hands full, but not just Jo. Thats the responsibility of the entire team. Hes very active. Hes going to make you pay for mistakes. If his guy goes to help, youve got to make sure youre sinking to the body and hes relentless. He never stops going and those are the type of guys who always rebound big. Just like a shooter gets into rhythm, he gets into rhythm and the more you go, the more you get and hes proving that, he gushed.
An underrated aspect of Varejaos game is his playmaking. He can really pass the ball. Hes clever. He can go from a dribble handoff to a pass and follow. He can slip screens. You can tell hes been around. He has all the tricks.Of course, Thibodeau has a very similar playerdown to their eclectic hairstylesin Joakim Noah, a premier rebounder, top-notch defender, underrated passer and probably a superior offensive talent to his Brazilian counterpart in Cleveland. When the two players, likely vying with each other for a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star teamalthough a familiar face in Chicago, former Bull and current Knicks center Tyson Chandler, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, also has an excellent chance and plays for a team with a better record at the momentmatched up Wednesday, not only did Noahs Bulls come out on top, he equaled Varejao in rebounding at 15 boards apiece, blocked two shots to the Cavs centers zero and outscored his opponent, 13-11, holding Clevelands man in the middle to 4-of-16 shooting from the field.Afterwards, Thibodeau didnt exactly change his tunehes not the type of coach to downgrade an opposing teams playerbut while he showed Varejao a lot of respect, he also gave Noah credit for a job well done, though making sure to put the teams performance first.Its a great matchup, but its more what the teams are doing, so its not a one-on-one game and I thought Jo, overall, his defense was good, his rebounding was good, the playmaking was good and thats the big thing, he said. You tip your hat to Varejao. The guy never takes a possession off, relentless and the thing is, even though he didnt shoot the ball particularly well, (he) never changed his demeanor or the way he was competing. He keeps going, he never stops. Ive got a lot of respect for the way he plays.Noah echoed the coachs sentiments about the matchup: Tough player. He rebounds the ball real well. Hes a hard-playing dude. Got to give credit where credit is due. Varejao is a great player.Do I like playing against him? No, he continued. I dont like playing against him. Every time the ball goes up, hes always going to the glass, he never takes a play off. Hes just a hard-playing dude, good dude, too. I really respect him on and off the court. His brothers Sandro, who played at West Virginia in the 90s a friend of mine. Brazilians are usually pretty cool people.

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

Plenty of Cubs fans surely were star-struck to meet Addison Russell at Cubs Convention last weekend. But the 22-year-old All-Star shortstop has a shortlist of people he would be amazed to meet, too. 

Russell reveres President Barack Obama, on Friday the outgoing Commander-in-Chief’s work in the community when talking about getting to visit the White House. So on Monday, Russell got to check off meeting one of the people on his list. 

“There’s probably about three people that I would be star-struck by, and (Obama’s) one of them,” Russell said. 

One of those three spots is “open,” Russell said. The other member of that list is former Ohio State and Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George. 

Russell wears his No. 27 because of George, who wore that number during his career in which he made four Pro Bowls and rushed for over 10,000 yards and 78 touchdowns. Prior to the 2016 season, George sent Russell and autographed Titans helmet inscribed with good luck message.

After the season, Russell said George texted him seeing if the newly-crowned champion had time to chill. Few things rattled Russell last year — he became the youngest player to hit a grand slam in the World Series when he blasted one in Game 6 against the Cleveland Indians last November — but getting a text from George did. 

“I couldn’t text back,” Russell said. “It was nuts. I waited four days because I was thinking of what back to say.”

Even the most famous athletes still get star-struck. Russell’s been lucky enough in the last few months to meet and hear from two of the people who bring out that sense of awe in him. 

“Just to come in contact with people like that, it just makes me smile,” Russell said. “It definitely gets me in the mood of getting better, and that’s the goal this year, is getting better.” 

White Sox trio lands on MLB.com's Top 10 RHP prospects list

White Sox trio lands on MLB.com's Top 10 RHP prospects list

The White Sox farm system has taken a complete 180 over the past calendar year.

Gone are the days where the White Sox would be lucky to land a single prospect in Top 100 prospects lists.

After undergoing an overhaul that saw franchise cornerstones Chris Sale and Adam Eaton shipped out for a bundle of prospects, the White Sox are soaring up MLB farm system rankings.

As they will each day until the end of the January, MLBPipeline.com will release baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

To kick off the countdown, the Top 10 right-handed pitching prospects were released on Tuesday, and to no surprise the list is White Sox heavy.

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Lucas Giolito (No. 3) and Reynaldo Lopez (No. 10), sent to the White Sox from the Nationals in a blockbuster deal for Eaton, both cracked the Top 10 list. 

Michael Kopech, who was a key piece along with MLB.com's 2016 top overall prospect Yoan Moncada in the White Sox haul from the Boston Red Sox for Sale, came in at No. 4 on MLBPipeline's rankings.

Check out what MLB.com's Mike Rosenbaum had to say about each White Sox pitcher below:

3. Lucas Giolito, White Sox
The prized right-hander of last year's class, Giolito saw his stock wane over the course of the season and especially in the big leagues, where apparent mechanical issues resulted in diminished velocity and hindered his control. He's shown the ceiling of an ace in the past, with the ability to command a mid-to-upper 90s heater, a knee-buckling curveball and a fading changeup, and now has renowned pitching coach Don Cooper on his side after joining the White Sox as part of the offseason Adam Eaton blockbuster deal.

4. Michael Kopech, White Sox
Kopech began the year on the disabled list with a broken hand but made up for the time lost with dazzling performances in the Class A Advanced Carolina League and, later, in the Arizona Fall League. Acquired in the Chris Sale trade in December, the 20-year-old hits triple digits with ease and backs it up with a plus slider and a promising changeup. As he continues to make developmental strides, Kopech will move quickly in 2017.

10. Reynaldo Lopez, White Sox
Overshadowed by Giolito headed into last season, Lopez proved the more effective of the duo in the big leagues before joining him in the offseason trade to Chicago. A more consistent and linear delivery resulted in improved strike-throwing ability for the 23-year-old righty, who can miss bats with his well above-average fastball, excellent curve and improved changeup.

Ironically, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow and Houston Astros pitcher Francis Martes, two players who have been rumored to be involved in their respective team's talks with the White Sox for starter Jose Quintana, made the Top 10 list on Tuesday.

Heading into the 2016 season, shortstop Tim Anderson (No. 38) and pitcher Carson Fulmer (No. 42) were the only two White Sox prospects on MLBPipeline's Top 100 list.

At the very least the White Sox will double that number in 2017 with the three aforementioned pitchers and Moncada.