Chicago White Sox

Bulls trio embracing new identities?

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Bulls trio embracing new identities?

On the one hand, the Bulls season-opening win Wednesday night over the Sacramento Kings at the United Center was very similar to a lot of the teams victories since Tom Thibodeau has been at the helm. It wasnt very high-scoring, it wasnt very pretty, it was perhaps closer than necessary and defense played a big part of it.

But aside from the absence of Derrick Rose and the Bench Mobthe newly-extended Taj Gibson is the lone remaining memberthe teams holdovers were featured in different roles than usual. All-Star Luol Deng struggled offensively, but made up for it with his rebounding, while Kirk Hinrich showed off his playmaking ability, something fans might not remember, since when he was last in Chicago, he often played off the ball to make room for the development of a younger Rose.

Instead, three playersRip Hamilton, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozerfunctioned in roles that fans might not used to be seeing them in: Hamilton healthy and reminiscent of his heyday in Detroit; Noah a newfound offensive force; and Boozer the teams de facto closer.

Hamilton, who has formed great chemistry with former rival and current starting backcourt partner Kirk Hinrich, ran the floor in transition and had his patented mid-range game working against the Kings. In short, he looked nothing like the player Chicago fans never got a chance to know a season ago.

I was hurt. Thats in the past, Hamilton said, weary about questions about his injury-plagued debut campaign in a Bulls uniform. Man, its whatever with me. With me, its whatever Coach needs me to do, thats what Im going to be here to do. Ive been playing a long time, so its not a thing where I say, Ive got to go out there and average 20. I dont do that, never did. Its all about wins and losses.

Concurred Thibodeau: The big thing for Rip is his health and he put a lot of work into getting his body healthy this summer, and I think it paid off for him. Whenever he plays, hes always effective. The problem was missing 38 games, so he never really got into a rhythm. The first time he played an extended stretch for us last year was the month of April, so it was a tough year and I think that got his attention, and I thought that he did a great job this summer.

Noahs work over the summer with NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been much ballyhooed, but while he didnt unveil the leagues all-time leading scorer trademark sky hook, he did appear much more comfortable in both the low post and high post, with his back to the basket and off the dribble.

Ill take it. Hes played very well in the preseason. Hes put a lot of work in. Hes playing with a lot of confidence right now, Thibodeau said of Noah, who also came up big at the free-throw line in the games closing moments. His defense was good, energy was good. He just does so many different things. He can pass the ball, he can score the ball, he can rebound the ball. His conditioning is significantly better, so I think thats a big plus.

Added longtime teammate Deng: Jo has been working hard. If he keeps that up, well be a great team.

In Boozers case, the much-maligned power forwards play down the stretch was also huge. Disparaged for coming up short in the last two playoffseither disappearing, but on the court or simply on the benchBoozer isnt regarded as a clutch player in the Windy City, but took a step in the right direction with his assertive play in the opener.

We have to continue to search him out, Thibodeau said. There are so many good things that happen for us when we throw the ball into him.

Boozer himself almost outright refuses to praise his own play these days, perhaps tired from the constant media backlash when he has a rough outing. But just like his two aforementioned teammates, hes started the season on a high note and if the trio continues to embrace their new responsibilities, the Bulls could end up surprising the naysayers, injured superstar or not.

White Sox continue dealing, trade Dan Jennings to Rays for prospect

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White Sox continue dealing, trade Dan Jennings to Rays for prospect

The White Sox continued their run of trades on Thursday morning, dealing relief pitcher Dan Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Casey Gillaspie.

Gillaspie, 24, was rated by MLB.com as the No. 10 prospect in the Rays organization. The switch-hitting first baseman batted .227 with nine homers, 44 RBIs and 45 runs scored in 95 games for AAA Durham.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound left-hander began the year ranked as the No. 74 prospect in baseball by Baseball America entering the year and was a Southern League All-Star in 2016.  The first-round pick in 2014 was a New York-Penn League All-Star that year and a Midwest League All-Star in 2015.

“Casey is a recent first-round pick who has shown a quality approach at the plate with some power throughout his minor-league career,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He gives us yet another highly touted hitter who has stood out at every level in the Rays system and increases our organizational depth as we continue to add prospects to the system.”

Casey is the young brother of Conor Gillaspie, who spent three seasons with the White Sox from 2013 to 2015.

Jennings went 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA in 48 appearances for the White Sox this season, his 48 appearances are tied for second in the American League.

St. Rita RB Chris Childers commits to Indiana State

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USA TODAY

St. Rita RB Chris Childers commits to Indiana State

St. Rita senior running back Chris Childers (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) decided late last week to end his recruiting process and gave Indiana State his verbal commitment.

"Indiana State had been recruiting me since the spring when they stopped into school," according to Childers. "I went and visited Indiana State and had a great visit and that's when I committed."

Childers was drawing recruiting interest from Syracuse, Minnesota along with Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois and North Dakota State before giving Indiana State his verbal commitment. Childers is also the fifth known Chicagoland commitment for the Sycamores joining Linblom WR CJ Rutherford, Carmel WR Shaneal Greene, Bishop McNamara DB Giavion Mason and Simeon defensive tackle Tierre Taylor.

Phillips junior tight end Jahleel Billingsly (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) was able to add his first offer from Purdue after an impressive Boilermakers one day camp performance last Friday at Purdue.

"The Purdue coaches came up to me during the camp and said that they wanted to be the first school to offer me a scholarship,: according to Billingsly.  "I was also able to look around at Purdue a bit and everything was really nice. I was able to see the campus and I also saw the brand new facility that

Purdue is building. Everything was just really nice at Purdue and I also got along great with the coaches. I was a bit surprised to get an offer from Purdue. We are getting towards the end of the summer and I just assumed that most of the coaches would wait until during the season before they would offer me."

Billingsly has also drawn recruiting looks so far this summer from Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, NIU and Missouri.

Waubonsie Valley senior three star ranked tight end Charles Robinson (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) remains one of the top remaining uncommitted names in the Class of 2018. So what's Robinson's plan for his recruiting process?

"I have no clue right now to be honest," Robinson said. "I want to wait until I truly feel the school I pick is the perfect fit for me. I have no favorites. I want to go to a Mississippi State game this fall for a game. I also want to go to an Iowa game, a Georgia game and an Illinois game."

Crystal Lake South four star ranked offensive tackle recruit Trevor Keegan (6-foot-6, 290 pounds) made a recent unofficial visit to Penn State and came away with an offer from the Nittany Lions.

"Penn State was pretty cool," according to Keegan. "I just really get along well with the Penn State coaches and I really like those guys. I was just impressed with the overall mentality at Penn State and just how focused everyone is at working hard and getting better every day. I was also able to tour the campus and see the facilities and I had maybe the best ice creme I've ever had at the Penn State Creamery. It was also great to add an offer from Penn State on my visit. The trip to Penn State went really smooth and it was a lot shorter than I had expected. Overall I had a good visit to Penn State."

Keegan is also hoping to attend some college game days this fall at LSU, Penn State, Michigan and Oklahoma.