Simeon's Parker wins USA Basketball Award

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Simeon's Parker wins USA Basketball Award

Simeon basketball star Jabari Parker has been named USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year for all men's basketball teams.

The 6'8 junior, rated as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 and arguably the nation's leading high school player regardless of class, is the youngest ever to receive this prestigious national award.

Parker, son of former Farragut, Texas A&M and NBA star Sonny Parker, was the most valuable player while leading the United States team to the Under-16 championship at the FIBA Americas Championships last summer. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

"He has a complete game," said longtime recruiting analyst Van Coleman of Hot100Hoops.com. "He can run the break off the glass as a point forward or known down threes with much improved regularity. He can finish at the rim in traffic or hit the open man off the dribble if double or triple-teammed.

"He makes everyone around him better. And he isn't afraid to do the dirty work on the glass or lock down the opponent's top scorer. He is the total package. He has drawn comparisons to (NBA stars) Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony because of his ability to make things happen both inside off the dribble or post up as well as with the jumper or pass on the perimeter."

Most veteran recruiting analysts, including Coleman and Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports, rate Parker as the top player in high school regardless of class. He is the leader of a Simeon team that is rated No. 1 in the nation and heavily favored to win its third consecutive state championship and fifth in seven years.

According to his father, Parker won't make his college decision until the fall of his senior year. Jabari, who is Mormon, is considering Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Stanford, Brigham Young, Washington, Connecticut, Florida, Louisville, Georgetown, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and North Carolina State.

Now what? Jon Lester driven to deliver more World Series titles to Chicago

Now what? Jon Lester driven to deliver more World Series titles to Chicago

MESA, Ariz. — Now what? Ryan Dempster believes these Cubs are young enough, hungry enough and talented enough to become the first group to win back-to-back World Series since the three-peat New York Yankees built a dynasty with titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

But Dempster already understands the expectations at Wrigley Field this season, especially after pitching on disappointing Cubs teams that got swept out of the playoffs and working as a special assistant in Theo Epstein's front office.

"Nothing can top it," Dempster said. "You can win 162 games and sweep everybody in the playoffs and it won't be as exciting for people, other than maybe the guys playing it."

That's why Jon Lester isn't putting up the "Mission Accomplished" banner at his locker, even though the Cubs had the parade down Michigan Avenue in mind when they gave him the biggest contract in franchise history at the time. Dempster — who also earned a World Series ring with the 2013 Boston Red Sox — had given Lester a scouting report as the Cubs went all-out in their pursuit of the big-game lefty.

There are still four years left on Lester's $155 million megadeal. It has been less than five months since the Cubs finally won the World Series and unleashed an epic celebration.

"Now the hard part is you don't get complacent," Lester said Wednesday after throwing six innings against an Oakland A's minor-league squad at the Sloan Park complex. "I talk about these young guys — that's where that helps. Even though you've accomplished things personally, you still want these guys to accomplish things.

"That's where that drive still gets you. You don't want to let your teammates down. You still want to be accountable for what you do. And that means showing up and doing your work in between starts and in the offseason."

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Lester believed so much in Epstein's vision, the pipeline of talent about to burst and the lure of Chicago that he signed with a last-place team. The Cubs needed a symbol to show they were serious about winning, a clubhouse tone-setter and an anchor for their rotation.

A new comfort level in Year 2 of that contract helped explain how Lester performed as an All Star, a Cy Young Award finalist and the National League Championship Series co-MVP. But Lester wants to make sure that the Cubs don't get too comfortable — or feel like they're playing with house money.

"You enjoy that, you learn from it," Lester said. "The biggest thing is not getting complacent with yourself and with your teammates. That's what drives me, making sure I'm prepared to pitch.

"I'm called upon every five days, and I have to be there. That's where that goal of 30 starts and 200 innings comes into play. I feel like if I do that, then I've done my job, for my teammates and this organization.

"The championships and the World Series — that's stuff you can't predict. It's stuff you strive to do every single year. So that's all we're going to focus on again. Our team goal again is to win a World Series."

Did Nelson Rodriguez say the Fire went after Carlos Tevez?

Did Nelson Rodriguez say the Fire went after Carlos Tevez?

All the buzz around the Chicago Fire right now is obviously the signing of Bastian Schweinsteiger, but general manager Nelson Rodriguez offered a hint at another player that had their eyes on.

During this week's Fire Weekly, Rodriguez talked about landing impact offensive players in regards to Schweinsteiger and said the club was looking at multiple different players.

"You carry simultaneous tracks on a lot of players," Rodriguez said. "We looked at a different form of impact offensive player than Basti is. Some of those we lost out on. One we lost out on to China when he signed for $84 million. We're just not going to swim in those waters. There's no rational sense to that contract."

Naturally there aren't many players that signed for $84 million anywhere, let alone in China. By process of elimination, Rodriguez sure makes it sound like the Fire made some effort to acquire Carlos Tevez. The 33-year-old Argentine striker signed a huge deal with Shanghai Shenhua in December that was reported to be worth 84 million euros.

This isn't the first time Rodriguez has dropped a hint about other players they've targeted. At the team's season kickoff luncheon on Feb. 27, Rodriguez said the team had looked at a few players to fill the team's open designated player spot, which Schweinsteiger has now occupied.

"Two of the players that we had on our list, we didn't make offers for so I want to be clear the two players we were tracking, one signed in Mexico with a big club in Mexico and one went to China for big money so they're off our list," Rodriguez said then.

Speculation remains open as to who the player that signed in Mexico was, but what Rodriguez said on Wednesday indicates that Tevez was the player who went to China. This also indicates that the negotiations didn't progress very far if the Fire never made an offer to Tevez, but it does sound like the Fire at least 'looked at' adding Tevez.