Simeon's Nunn has plenty of offers, including two close to home

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Simeon's Nunn has plenty of offers, including two close to home

Simeon Career Academy's Kendrick Nunn, the consensus No. 2 2013 prospect in Illinois behind teammate and Gatorade National Player of the Year Jabari Parker, has seen his recruitment pick up serious steam since the NCAA season concluded.

The smooth lefty used his impressive range and ability to finish at the basket to help the Wolverines to their third straight Class 4A Illinois state championship, a 50-48 victory over Proviso East.

And while some of the top colleges in the country have shown interest in the 6-foot-2 shooting guard, his decision could come down to the two most interested schools closest to him: Illinois and Marquette.

Rivals.com ranks Nunn as the No. 22 prospect in the 2013 class, and the seventh best shooting guard. He originally commited to Billy Kennedy and Texas A&M following his sophomore year at Simeon, when the Wolverines went 30-2 and won their second straight Illinois state championship. However, Nunn would decommit from the Aggies just over a month later, saying over Twitter that he had rushed his decision.

Thanks to his successful junior season at Simeon and his impressive spring with Meanstreets AAU, Nunn now holds scholarship offers not only from Illinois andMarquette, but alsoUCLA, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State, Missouri and a host of others. He also has a scholarship offer from DePaul, where he is visiting today.According to Josh Paunil of National Recruiting Spotlight, who spoke with Nunn earlier this week, Kansas, Syracuse and North Carolina have also shown interest in the combination guard.

Former coach Bruce Weber and the Illini had offered Nunn prior to his Texas A&M commitment, and John Groce's hiring this March will only help Illinois further.

Groce, who left Ohio University after four years, has strong Chicago connections and could help lure Nunn, who visited just over a week after Groce was hired, to Champaign.

As is the case with many of the top recruits in the country, immediate playing time will be a factor with Nunn. And the Illini should have plenty of it in 2013.

Following point guard Jalen James' decommitment on June 1, the Illini now have four open scholarships for the 2013 class. Rayvonte Rice, who transferred from Creighton this off-season and will be eligible to play in 2013-'14, would be Nunn's only real competition to start at shooting guard.

Even still, Nunn would most likely be the Illini's top recruit of the class and would see playing time immediately following senior Brandon Paul's departure.

Four hours north, Buzz Williams and Marquette, who offered Nunn in the fall of 2011, were presumed to be out of the running after 2013 point guard Duane Wilson committed in late March.

But things changed in late May, when then-Illinois assistant coach Isaac Chew, who had been on the job just over a month, resigned from Groce's staff and accepted the same position at Marquette under Williams. Like Groce, Chew is known for his connections throughout the midwest, including Chicago.

Suddenly Chew, who presumably had been recruiting Nunn to Illinois, is now doing the same for Marquette.Nunn visited Marquette on Monday, andit appears the Golden Eagles are back on the shooting guard's radar thanks to Chew.

One factor that could sway Nunn's decision is Steve Taylor. Simeon's 6-foot-8 forward signed with Marquette last November and will begin his college career this fall. Williams recent uptick on recruiting Chicago, combined with the addition of Chew to the coaching staff could help sway Nunn.

Unlike Illinois, Marquette has a bit of a logjam with its 2013 class. Junior college freshman Jameel McKay, who will be eligible for the 2013-'14 season, gave a verbal commitment to Williams on June 2. Along with Wilson and Deonte Burton, Marquette now has filled all three open scholarships for the 2013 class.

A transfer possibility is always an option, or redshirt senior Chris Otule, who has missed two years with season-ending injuries, may not be granted a sixth year by the NCAA. While that will not be known until next spring, it's likely that Williams will find a way to make Nunn fit if he were to decide to attend Marquette.Nunn also told Paunil he is planning to visit the UCLA campus sometime over the summer, before he narrows his list of schools down to three or five. He also plans to make his decision in the fall before his senior season at Simeon.

Ben Howland's group went a disappointing 19-14 last season, but he still managed to pull in the country's most impressive recruiting class. All four 2012 signees are consensus top-50 players in the country, led by small forward Shabazz Muhmammad, listed by many recruiting outlets as the top player in the class.

Surprisingly, UCLA's loaded 2012 recruiting class does not feature a shooting guard. While Nunn would have to play his college career farther from home, the appeal of playing for a blueblood program like UCLA, combined with an ultra-talented roster, could prove too much for Illinois and Marquette.

Missouri and Memphis, two schools who play an up-tempo style offense Nunn is looking for, are still in play as well, and the Syracuses, Kentuckys and Kansases of the recruiting world still could come calling with scholarship offers.

But if Nunn can not resist the appeal of playing close to home, it could put Groce and Illinois in a hot recruiting battle with Williams and Groce's former assistant in Chew.

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks knew their meeting against the Minnesota Wild two weeks ago was a critical contest. This one is right up there, too.

The Blackhawks are trying to keep pace with the front-running Wild, who are seven points ahead of them entering tonight's game.

"There's certainly always something to play for," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks are 10 points ahead of third-place St. Louis. "We want to keep getting better and we're starting to improve over this part of the season. But the point of importance of today's game and keeping it close is important for us, so we'll approach it that way. We were going into the break a week ago, and I'm sure it's an important game for them but it's an extremely important game for us."

Meanwhile the Wild will be trying to do tonight what the Blackhawks did on Feb. 11: go into their bye on a high note. The Wild haven't had many hiccups lately, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Devan Dubnyk will get the start as the Wild look to keep extending their lead.

"It's one of those games that's a great challenge for your group," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You're playing a team that's still won three Stanley Cups in the last seven years and they've been in every battle you can imagine. That team gets up for every important game, and I think they'll think this is an important game. It's just about being an athlete. It's one of those things, you love to play in these situations."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Tuesday marks the Wild's 59th game of the season; they had caught up to Chicago during the Blackhawks' bye week, yet will go into their break with a game in hand. Still, the Wild are ready for the respite.

"We're not complaining about it," Charlie Coyle said. "It's a little different, yeah, but in the long run it's going to help us. Just get this rest period, rest the legs, the body, [rest] mentally, come back and get ready for the grind. It's going to be crucial for us and we'll try to take advantage of it."

Matt Dumba (knee) could return to the Wild's lineup tonight but Boudreau wouldn't say for sure.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com and NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks

Forward lines
Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

Injuries/illnesses: None

Minnesota Wild

Forward lines
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville
Chris Stewart-Tyler Graovac-Jordan Schroeder

Defensive Pairs
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Gustav Olofsson-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Matt Dumba

Goaltender
Devan Dubnyk

Injuries/illnesses: None