Surprise? Blackshear plays in All-American Game

Surprise? Blackshear plays in All-American Game

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 11:58 p.m.
By Scott Phillips
YourSeason.com

Chicago certainly loves its basketball.

In front of a sold-out United Center crowd, fans that usually pack the place for Derrick Rose and the Bulls were treated to the flash and flair of the 34th annual McDonalds All-American game as the East topped the West 111-96 on Wednesday night.

The announced crowd of 19,909, the largest crowd ever for a McDonalds game, saw the typical highlight-reel plays that such a game produces. They also saw Sun-Times Player of the Year Wayne Blackshear battle through a dislocated left shoulder to play limited minutes.

After initially saying he wouldnt play in the game on Monday, Morgan Parks Blackshear, a Louisville recruit, played through the pain and started the game.

"Before I first came on the court I was in the back with team doctors trying to figure out if I would be able to play," Blackshear said. "(My shoulder) wasn't even hurting at all. I got loose before the game and it was okay. I was a little scared of it but it was nothing major. I was okay.

The doctor approved him to play limited minutes, said West coach Gene Pingatore of St. Joseph. So we decided to start him and play him four minutes each half.

Blackshear finished the game with two points on 1-of-3 shooting with two rebounds and two assists in eight minutes of playing time.

"It was fun. (It was my) first time on the United Center floor. It was a dream for me. I was just blessed to be here," Blackshear said, "I wanted to play, but all of the doctors told me no. But on game day we checked it out and they said I was good to go."

After trailing 57-44 at halftime, the West came roaring back thanks to the strong play of Chicagos other representative, Perspectives-MSAs Anthony Davis. The Kentucky recruit came out firing in the second half, leading the West on a 13-0 run to tie the game at 57-all. Davis scored nine of his 14 points in the second half and also finished with six rebounds and four blocks. Davis was 5-of-8 from the field.

Still, it wasnt enough as the East capitalized on 18 West turnovers that led to 26 points. The game featured 10 lead changes and 11 ties, but co-MVPs James McAdoo and Michael Gilchrist fought off the constant pushes from the West to pull away. McAdoo, a North Carolina recruit, had a game-high 17 points while Kentucky recruit Gilchrist notched 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Florida recruit Brad Beal also had 17 points for the East while Pittsburgh recruit Khem Birch led the West with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. The East also had double-figure efforts from North Carolina recruit P.J. Hairston (15 points) and Duke recruit Quinn Cook (14 points).

Austin Rivers, the son of former Proviso East legend and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, finished the game with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. The Duke commit shot 5-of-14 from the field.

Kentucky recruit Kyle Wiltjer (11 points) and Indiana recruit Cody Zeller (10 points) also finished in double figures for the West.

Bears’ Markus Wheaton says wide receiver group is 'definitely underrated'

Bears’ Markus Wheaton says wide receiver group is 'definitely underrated'

No doubt, there are doubts about the makeup of this 2017 Bears wide receiver corps. But as the departed Alshon Jeffery created doubts, health-wise, the past two years about whether he could stay on the field to prove himself worthy of a big payday (which he didn’t even get from the Eagles), Ryan Pace brought in a handful of replacements who’ve flashed in this league before. But recent history’s shown each of them has something to prove as well.

From Rueben Randle to fellow former Giant Victor Cruz. From former first rounders Kendall Wright to Kevin White, taking a third swing at making it though an entire NFL season.

Then there’s Markus Wheaton, the only free agent signee at the position this season to receive a two-year deal ($11 million total, with $6 million guaranteed). Like the rest of the group, though, he’s at a career crossroads. Following seasons with 53 and 44 catches in Pittsburgh in 2014 and 2015 (with a 17-yard average in the latter), the quick-twitch former Steeler was limited to three games a year ago before eventually undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in January.

“Everyone’s new, so we don’t know what it’s gonna be,” he said of the group at the team’s recent minicamp in Lake Forest. “In Pittsburgh you kind of have a clue `cause they’ve done it for so long. Everybody’s new, everybody’s trying to find their niche, so we’ll see how it goes. Anything’s possible. We’ve got a lot of guys who are looking for opportunity. A lot of guys that are hungry and have something to prove. Anything’s possible. Anyone can come out on top. The ultimate goal is to win games and I’m sure the coaches will put us in position to do that.”

The former third-round pick out of Oregon State (where he’s the Beavers’ all-time career leader in receptions, one ahead of Brandin Cooks) played all three receiver positions in Pittsburgh at various times, and while he seems most natural in the slot, is working to make himself as versatile as possible here. But that comes with some risk as a quarterback room that’s also gone through its share of turnover tries to get on the same page with all the targets. But Wheaton is more than confident the results will come from within this group.

“I think we definitely are underrated," Wheaton said. "We’ve come in and worked to get to where we wanna be. We will get there, and it’ll show up on the field.”

The incumbents in the room include Joshua Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Daniel Braverman, Cam Meredith, and, of course, White. Wheaton can see the potential in the ex-seventh overall draft pick.

“I couldn’t imagine all the stuff he’s been through, all the pressure that’s been put on him," Wheaton said. "But he’s a down-to-earth guy who works extremely hard, so I think he’s gonna get his. He’s a big-time playmaker, so I’m excited to see him play.

“They welcomed me with open arms. Everybody’s down to earth, been easy to talk to so when I have questions, I’ve been getting answers, so it’s been real easy for me.”

That surgically-repaired shoulder was cleared for full participation just in time for minicamp two weeks ago. And Wheaton won’t allow himself to become hesitant physically as he aims to conquer what hesitation he could have within the offense, working with quarterbacks not named Ben Roethlisberger.

“I really don’t think there’s time for that. When you’re ready to go, you just go,” Wheaton told us. “You come in, you work, you rehab. And for me personally I had to rehab a lot to get back to where I wanted to be. There’s a level I want to be at. I’ve been just working to get there, so there’s no time for that.”

That last statement comes even if some observers hesitate to call Wheaton and these wideouts “underrated.” They’ll start attempting to prove that when the Bears report to Bourbonnais exactly one month from Monday.

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”