Only three Illinois starters in college elite

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Only three Illinois starters in college elite

For years, it has been argued from the Quad Cities to Chicago to Peoria to Quincy to Cairo that the quality of high school basketball in Illinois is comparable to any other state in the country.

Remember when Isiah Thomas and Mark Aguirre were rated as the 1-2 players in the nation? When Marcus Liberty was rated as the No. 1 player in the nation? Kevin Garnett? Leon Smith? Darius Miles? Eddy Curry? Derrick Rose? Anthony Davis? And now Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander.

But it isn't translating onto the college stage.

Not this year.

According to Sports Illustrated's list of the top 20 college teams in the nation in 2012-13, only three Illinois products are starters and two others are top reserves.

Five Illinois players in the nation's elite programs.

The starters are Michigan's Matt Vogrich (Lake Forest), Ohio State's Lenzelle Smith Jr. (Zion-Benton) and Notre Dame's Jack Cooley (Glenbrook South).

The reserves are Louisville's Wayne Blackshear (Morgan Park) and Ohio State's Sam Thompson (Whitney Young).

"There is no question that the majority of players in Illinois are over-hyped at a very young age," said Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye.

"They receive considerable buildup from the hype artists (many of whom reside in the Chicago area) to the point where there is nowhere for them to go but down. This is somewhat reflected in the small number of players who are either starting or receiving significant minutes off the bench for top 20 teams."

However, the Schmidt brothers point out that if the list of top-rated college teams for 2012-13 is expanded, there are several Illinois products who should make an impact. They cite George Marshall (Brooks) and Ben Brust (Mundelein) at Wisconsin and Mike McCall (Foreman) and Dwayne Evans (Bolingbrook) at St. Louis.

"This illustrates that, despite the enormous over-hype, the state of Illinois still has a great talent base and there is plenty to draw from," Roy Schmidt said.

"To take it a step further, there are a slew of players from Illinois who are playing at mid-major Division I programs and will be vital to their team's success. What this shows is that you don't have to attend a high major program to became a great player and that there will always be players who fall through the cracks.

"In our opinion, it is also somewhat indicative of how so many scouts and recruiting analysts spend too much time focusing on the high major level of recruiting. It is not all that difficult to identify the 5-star recruits. But it takes considerably more skill to be able to predict which players are capable of being stars at the mid-major level."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

In the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, the panel previews the Bulls' matchup against the Cavaliers. 

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David Schuster (670 The Score) and Kendall Gill to break down the keys to a Bulls win. Later, Vincent Goodwill (CSNChicago.com) joins Luke to discuss the team's progress. 

Finally, LeBron James pays off his World Series bet and the entire media world is there to see it. 

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: 

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.