Pistons' Villanueva recalls early days of Deng, Noah

958711.png

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."

Wake-up Call: Cubs breathe sigh of relief; Chapman cuts it close against White Sox

update-626.jpg
USA TODAY

Wake-up Call: Cubs breathe sigh of relief; Chapman cuts it close against White Sox

Here are some of Monday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

How Ozzie Guillen's harsh honesty resonated with Avisail Garcia

Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

Ways to watch, stream Bulls introductory press conference for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen

Last-place White Sox ready to trade, but only if the right offer arises

Kyle Schwarber has rocky start to Triple-A stint

How to watch, stream White Sox vs. Yankees

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

If Nationals are playoff preview, what should Cubs do at trade deadline?

Burger Bash: White Sox first-round pick puts on show in BP

Ways to watch, stream Bulls introductory press conference for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen

Ways to watch, stream Bulls introductory press conference for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen

The Chicago Bulls will introduce Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen today, and you can watch on CSN or live stream at CSNChicago.com/watchlive.

Tune in as coverage starts at 11 a.m. with players set to take the podium. 

The trio was acquired in the Bulls' trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. LaVine is rehabbing from a torn ACL, which cut his strong campaign short last season. Dunn is coming into his second season and was a player Gar/Pax thought highly of in last year's draft. Markkanen is a stretch-four that was drafted out of Arizona with the No. 7 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

Read more about the new Bulls in Mark Strotman's scouting report.