Chicago basketball documentaries in the news

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Two documentaries about the Chicago high school basketball scene made headlines in the past week.’s Taylor Bell reported first in November that filmmakers Coodie Simmons and Chika Ozah were working on a documentary about the life of former Simeon star Ben Wilson (pictured right), who was tragically shot and killed in 1984. The New York Times media blog reported that the doc, “Benji,” will air in November, the 28th anniversary of Wilson’s death, as part of ESPN’s second batch of 30 for 30 films.

If you haven’t seen the 30 for 30 films, you can still catch occasional reruns during the daytime at ESPN2 or ESPN Classic. They are awesome, but I love documentaries. My favorites during the first round of the series were on former Oklahoma running back Marcus Dupree, Colombian soccer star Andres Escobar and on the death penalty for Southern Methodist football.

The Sherman Report included a description of the upcoming “Benji” film from an ESPN press release:

“In 1984, 17-year-old Ben Wilson was a symbol of everything promising about Chicago: a sweet-natured youngster from the city’s fabled South Side, and America’s top high school basketball prospect. Nicknamed “Magic Johnson with a jump shot,” Wilson’s natural talents and drive assured his best years were yet to come. Then, in November of his senior year, the life of this exceptional youngster was abruptly and tragically cut short. Wilson’s grim fate sent ripples of horror through the city and the country.”

One of ESPN’s future 30 for 30 films also has a Chicago connection featuring area resident and former baseball-football star Bo Jackson. Jackson owns Bo Jackson Elite Sports in Lockport and was featured on a recent ESPN “Outside the Lines” report on his fund-raising activities for Alabama tornado victims. introduced another upcoming doc, perhaps seeking a film distributor, which held a fundraiser last week in the city.

Here is that report:

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