Pistons' Villanueva recalls early days of Deng, Noah


Pistons' Villanueva recalls early days of Deng, Noah

AUBURN HILLS, MICH.Long before Luol Deng and Joakim Noah were NBA players, Pistons forward Charlie Villaneuva knew them as his prep-school roommate and a ballboy at a high school All-American camp, respectively.
Villanueva, a native of Queens, N.Y., attended New Jerseys Blair Academy and teamed up with Deng in a frontcourt featuring two of the best prep prospects in the nation. The dynamic duo almost attended college together, at Big Ten power Indiana, but instead opted to separate, as Deng went to Duke for a season and Villanueva attended Connecticut for two years before declaring for the NBA Draft.
In fact, they faced off in the 2005 NCAA Final FourVillaneuvas UConn team, which also featured former Bulls guard Ben Gordon, beat Deng and Duke, en route to a national championshipin a matchup they fantasized about while in high school. Prior to Friday nights Bulls-Pistons game at The Palace at Auburn Hills, Villanueva told CSNChicago.com that he wasnt surprised by his former roommates professional success.
Deng was a tremendous player, in high school and now. you could just tell how good he was and how good a feel for the game he had. Playing against him in the Final Four in college was an amazing feeling because we actually talked about that. Actually playing against him was amazing. But seeing play throughout his years in the league, hes been getting better every year and Im not surprised at all that hes an All-Star, and Id be surprised if hes not an All-Star this year as well, he said. We used to go at each other every time. We got each other better and off the court, he was my roommate. Sharing stories, him being from Londonand Sudanand me being from New York, it was just two different worlds.
Villanueva watched Noah, who played for the same AAU program, develop from afar. As has been well-chronicled, Noahs growth spurt, which transformed him from a guard into a talented, if unorthodox big man, sparked his college recruiting interest and as time has gone on, Villanuevas fellow New Yorker has evolved into one of the top centers in the game, something the Pistons forward believes strongly.
Jo, I remember him when he was a little kid. It was amazing. He used to come to ABCD camp back in the day in Jersey and watch all of us play, the New York guys and then, one summer, I just saw him grow and what hes become is amazing, he recalled. Id say hes one of the best centers in the league. Hes definitely a name you have to consider."

Honda Road Ahead: Bulls continue playoff push against Cavaliers, Hawks

Honda Road Ahead: Bulls continue playoff push against Cavaliers, Hawks

Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill and Will Perdue break down the Bulls' upcoming schedule in the latest edition of the Bulls Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

TNT Bulls are back this week as the team heads into a crucial stretch. 

Currently, the Bulls sit half a game back of the Miami Heat for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and with just eight games remaining on the schedule, each contest is essentially a must-win. 

So, yes, Thursday would be a great time for Jimmy Butler and company to summon their TNT alter ego. The Bulls have sealed 18 straight victories when playing on TNT Thursday, an improbable feat considering those games are usually reserved for two of the NBA's best. 

To continue that run, they'll have to down Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are also fighting for playoff positioning -- albeit at the top of the conference. Good thing the Bulls have a tendency to get up for big games. 

"The Bulls play up and down to their competition," Bulls Pregame and Postgame analyst Kendall Gill said. "They've been doing that the whole season." 

After Cleveland, the Bulls get set to battle another playoff squad, the Atlanta Hawks. 

Watch the video above to see Schanowski, Gill and Perdue break down the matchups. 

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson's foot could keep him out until late May

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson's foot could keep him out until late May

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Charlie Tilson will spend another three weeks in a walking boot and is likely out until at least the end of May.

The White Sox outfielder has been wearing the boot ever since he re-aggravated a stress reaction in his right foot earlier this month. Tilson is also rehabbing a torn hamstring that required surgery last August and ended his 2016 season early.

The White Sox later downed the San Francisco Giants 4-3 at Camelback Ranch. Catcher Roberto Pena had a two-out, two-run single in the ninth.

“It’s likely going to be a little bit of a process from there,” Tilson said. “One of those things you have to listen to your body. Like I said, it may take more time than I would like. But the ultimate goal is to be sustainable and get myself back to where I need to be.”

The White Sox top options for center field remain veteran Peter Bourjos and prospect Jacob May. They also could use Leury Garcia in center, manager Rick Renteria said.

Center field is one of several open roster battles with only three full days to go in camp. The team is off on Thursday before playing a pair of exhibition games at Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday.

“We’ll figure it out, and it could be in the next couple of days,” Renteria said. “We just have to allow it to play out and then make a determination at that point.”

The White Sox also have two spots up for grabs in the back of the bullpen. Michael Ynoa, who is out of options, non-roster invitees Anthony Swarzak, Cory Luebke and Matt Purke, and rookie Zack Burdi are vying for jobs. Rookie Juan Minaya is likely to start the season on the disabled list.

Rule 5 draftee Dylan Covey, who pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday, could figure into the team’s plans even more if Carlos Rodon starts the season on the disabled list. Covey is expected to start for the White Sox on Wednesday against the San Diego Padres.

Sunday’s starter James Shields said he’s ready for the regular season after throwing five innings. Shields allowed three earned runs and eight hits, walked three and struck out two.

He finished the Cactus League with a 3.45 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.

“Overall I felt good and I’m ready to move on,” Shields said. “These last couple outings I’ve been trying to work on my two-seam fastball. Today it was a little erratic, but overall felt pretty good.”

Nate Jones struck out two in a scoreless inning pitched. David Robertson, Blake Smith and Dan Jennings also pitched a scoreless inning.

Jose Abreu doubled and walked in four trips. Melky Cabrera singled twice in three trips.