The bizarre case of Wayne Blackshear

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By Joe Henricksen

While the Wayne Blackshear camp has yet to come out publicly with what has transpired over the past week, Curie and coach Mike Oliver have all but moved on. The Condors played their second game Monday night without Blackshear, losing to Robeson after beating Morton Sunday night at North Park.

There were rumors floating around North Park Sunday night regarding the possibility that Blackshear, arguably the top prospect in the Class of 2011, may be moving from the Curie program. When Curie walked in the gym and there was no Blackshear, the rumors spread like wildfire.

“It’s time to move on and move forward,” Oliver said Sunday night when asked about Blackshear.

Blackshear was at practice last Thursday with his Curie teammates and then, just like that, was gone. Curie did not hear from or see Blackshear for three days. According to sources, Blackshear is now at Morgan Park, where Nick Irvin is currently the head coach. The Irvin family, of course, runs the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program that Blackshear plays for in the offseason.

Ever since Irvin took over the Morgan Park program earlier this year, numerous people asked the question: “Who will be the first player to move over to Morgan Park?” Now we have the answer. And are more to follow?

The common response the Hoops Report has heard in the past 24-36 hours from people is, “Nothing in the Public League surprises me.” While that may be true, this move compared to many of the other bizarre moves over the years in the Chicago Public League borders absurd. Here is a player that, no matter who he plays high school or AAU basketball with, is a high-major talent who can play at the highest level in college. And to make things even more mindboggling, here are Blackshear’s own words in his player diary in the Sun-Times just last Friday: “School has been going real well. I’m passing every class…. I’ve been really happy at Curie, everyone gets along and the teachers are real nice. They help you with everything.”

Now the fallout begins.

First, Blackshear could very easily be ruled ineligible to play. How sad would it be if this young, super talent has to sit a year of high school following this transfer? But this is about as high-profile of a transfer case as you will find. Then you throw in all the connections involved, the drama of it being a mid-season transfer and the ramifications for future cases, and CPS Director of Sports Administration Calvin Davis has a mess on his hands in how he will deal with this situation.

Second, how will this sit with others in the Chicago Public League, namely coaches who may be guarding and trying to hold on to their own players with all their might as you read this?

Third, there were more than a couple of high-major college programs who, when notified of Blackshear’s move to play for Nick Irvin and Morgan Park, noted the chances of them landing the super sophomore were slim and none. They pointed out the landscape of Blackshear’s recruitment would quickly change as the handlers in charge of his recruitment will now certainly shift.

And finally, you have to feel for Curie coach Mike Oliver, a good guy in the Chicago Public League who took Blackshear under his wing at an early age. He looked out for his best interests early on, going all the way back to 6th grade. A Curie guy through and through, you could hear the excitement in Oliver’s voice last year as he spoke about Blackshear and the other young talent coming into the Curie program. And now this.

Yes, nothing should surprise us in the Chicago Public League.

North Park Shootout Tidbits

The games on Sunday were more about who was not there than who was, particularly with the premier game of the day — Curie vs. Morton. Both teams were without their top players. Morton’s Luke Scarlata was out after having an appendectomy and Wayne Blackshear of Curie was missing because …. well, see above.

Providence St. Mel’s Phillip Jackson, the long, athletic 6-8 big man, struggled at times against Von Steuben. But make no mistake, Jackson is every bit the prospect everyone believes he is. He’s just barely scratched the surface and is clearly one of the top half dozen prospects in the Class of 2010.

What Jackson will be in college is not what he is today. He projects to be a strong, mobile big man with a great body and frame, athleticism and length, and the ability to beat opposing big men down the floor. He still has big strides to make in the overall development of his game, but his combination of agility and strength potential jumps out at you. And while his offensive game is raw, he does have a decent release and rotation on his shot, especially for a big man.

The Morgan Park tandem of 6-3 guard Victor Scott and 6-5 forward Aaron Moise are a couple of under-the-radar small college prospects. Scott has a scorer’s mentality with nice size and athleticism for a guard. Moise is an absolutely, off-the-charts explosive athlete and is an undersized four-man at the next level. He is constantly up and around the rim and gets quite a bit done. He’s a huge force on the offensive glass. Moise scored 22 points in the loss to Leo on Sunday. Both Scott and Moise are solid students in the classroom.

While Leo’s James Pointer gets most of the attention for the Lions, time and time again the potential of 2-guard Darrin Johnson is on display. He was solid Sunday in the win over Morgan Park. Johnson has a trio of attributes that impress you: he’s a big-time athlete, has a great body and strength for a perimeter player and can really shoot the ball. He gets tremendous elevation on his jumper and has a nice, high release point. He does lack the fluid ability to put the ball on the floor. And though he’s a terrific finisher in transition, he struggles getting to the basket in the halfcourt.

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