In the midst of turmoil, Simeon prepares for Morgan Park


In the midst of turmoil, Simeon prepares for Morgan Park

Theyre disgusted.

That was Simeon head coach Robert Smiths description of his players' mood after practice on Tuesday evening, just a few hours after finding out three of their teammates had been ruled ineligible by the IHSA.

Donte Ingram, Sean Moore and Jaycee Hillsman, all transfers, were declared ineligible just a day before one of the biggest high school games on the local docket as the Wolverines take on the Morgan Park Mustangs Wednesday night at Chicago State.

They feel like somebody did something to them, said Smith. As a school, we didnt do anything wrong and theyre upset about it. The players dont want to do any interviews, they dont want to talk to anybody, they dont want to do none of that stuff. They just want to focus on basketball.

At the beginning of the season, all three had been ruled eligible by the IHSA, but after a recent review of their cases, they were informed that they couldnt play. Ingram transferred to Simeon from Danville, Hillsman came from St. Thomas More in Champaign and Moore came over from Leo. Making matters worse, the aforementioned Moore is a senior this year.

At the end of the day, they were ruled eligible. Months ago. To come back in the middle of the season and rule them ineligible, thats wrong.

All three players practiced on Tuesday, which they are still allowed to do. They just cant play in the games. And having to sit out one of the biggest games of the year thus far just makes matters worse. But coach Smith thinks the trios absence will light a fire under the rest of his squad.

This probably wont do anything but give us more motivation against Morgan Park explained Smith before reiterating how unfairly he feels his kids are being treated. They just feel like somebody did something to them when they didnt do anything wrong. And these are good kids. Its not fair to them.

Although Moore, Hillsman and Ingram werent starters, they provided depth for coach Smith off the bench. Now itll be up to sophomore D.J. Williams, senior Rickey Norris and junior Bobby Harris to carry more of the load.

But despite the turmoil, Smith knows he has a tough task on his hands with Morgan Park and wanted to make sure his players didnt lose sight of the importance of the game.

We had a pretty good practice. We wanted to go over some of the stuff that they do well and execute on some of the stuff that were going to need to do well in order to beat those guys, explained Smith. They play extremely hard for the whole 32 minutes. Thats the biggest part of it.

"The most important thing is getting ready for tomorrows game. All that other stuff were just going to put aside. The kids will be fine. I just hate to go to a game and they cant dress, knowing this wasnt their faults But theyre still a part of the team.

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