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posted: 4/11/2014 5:18 AM

Colleges in Illinois losing the hoops race

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  • Stevenson's Jalen Brunson and Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor, right, talk after Whitney Young's victory in the Class 4A state semifinal at Carver Arena in Peoria. Okafor, the No. 1 player in the nation, will play for Duke next season.

       Stevenson's Jalen Brunson and Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor, right, talk after Whitney Young's victory in the Class 4A state semifinal at Carver Arena in Peoria. Okafor, the No. 1 player in the nation, will play for Duke next season.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Inside

This year's NCAA men's basketball tournament was fantastic to watch, but without any participation from teams in Illinois, it's not as quite as much fun -- at least it wasn't for me.

If any of our teams -- Illinois, Northwestern, Northern, Southern or any other state school had participated, it would have been better.

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What really hurts year after year is seeing all the terrific Chicagoland area players who have played in the tournament for other states.

I remember when Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer was Mr. Basketball for the state of Illinois. I had his parents on the air numerous times and even Jon at one point, and I tried to steer them in the direction of a state school.

Now I think I owe them an apology.

My loyalty went too far; the kid had a fabulous college career, played a little ball overseas and won a national championship with Mike Krzyzewski and Duke.

Could he have made a difference at Illinois? Absolutely. Would he have won a national championship? The answer is no.

Frank Sinatra once sang a line, "Regrets, I had a few. But then again, too few to mention." The song line for Illinois schools should be, "Talent, we've lost a lot, too many to mention."

How about Aurora East's Ryan Boatright, who helped lead UConn to a national championship this year? Or Benet Academy's Frank Kaminsky of Lisle?

I saw Frank up close while helping as an assistant coach for Notre Dame College Prep, and he made our lives miserable with his outstanding play. Where did he go? Wisconsin -- a Final Four team this year, which also featured Ben Brust of Mundelein High School and Duje Dukan of Deerfield High School.

And then there's Simeon standout Jabari Parker, who went with Coach K at Duke. I am sure there are plenty of others you will either email me about or tweet.

Illinois last reached the Final Four in the 2004-2005 season with the Deron Williams leading a talented team. That was their chance and they dropped the ball.

This year is no different; the No. 1 recruit in the country, Jahlil Okafor from Whitney Young, is going to Duke. The No. 3 recruit in the nation, Cliff Alexander from Curie High school, is going to Kansas.

It appears Illinois schools have become doormats. Can a school here turn it around anytime soon?

I sure hope so.

Program notes:

Follow me on Twitter@ north2north, and listen to Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and myself from 5-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Fox Sports radio. Catch my show from 7-11 a.m. Sundays, and check me out on iHeart radio or Foxsportsradio.com.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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