Public League semifinal preview: Perspectives-Leadership has crashed the party

The Warriors knocked off Hyde Park in the quarterfinals on Tuesday and have entered the spotlight for the first time in the history of the Perspectives charter schools.

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Perspectives-Leadership’s Jakeem Cole (12) shoots the ball against Phillips.

Perspectives-Leadership’s Jakeem Cole (12) shoots the ball against Phillips.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

A newcomer has crashed the party.

Year after year, the same teams pop up in the Public League semifinals. It’s difficult to build a program capable of hanging with the established powers.

Perspectives-Leadership has pulled it off. The Warriors knocked off Hyde Park in the quarterfinals on Tuesday and have entered the spotlight for the first time in the history of the Perspectives charter schools.

“This is a huge moment for our program and the whole charter school network,” Warriors coach Mike Smith said. “The energy in the building [on Wednesday] has been amazing.”

Anthony Davis attended Perspectives-Joslin, which plays as Perspectives-MSA now. But even with Davis Perspectives had a losing record.

Perspectives-Leadership is a newer school located on South Lafayette between 85th and 86th Street.

The Warriors were ranked in the preseason and then suffered some ups and downs while several talented transfers meshed together and the team adjusted to life up in the Red.

Leo transfer Jakeem Cole, a second team All-City selection last season, has been the key to Perspectives-Leadership’s late-season surge. Cole scored 30 against Westinghouse in the second round and had 22 against Hyde Park in the quarterfinals.

Cole and talented junior guard Gianni Cobb have learned how to play together.

“[Cole] missed the first few games of the year and we were kind of rolling without him,” Smith said. “Gianni was scoring a lot of points early. Jakeem had to come in and figure out how he fit into the offense. He’s comfortable now and he can get it down with how we run things. The group is very accepting of him and that’s the major thing right now.”

Cobb hasn’t received a ton of attention, but he has a confidence and flair that makes him one of the city’s most exciting players to watch.

“He’s put it all together now where he can score but his assists are going up,” Smith said. “He’s a floor general and he’s learned how to coexist with [Cole].”

Cobb’s older brother, KJ, is effective inside and outside and junior Tim Handy is a leaper that has posted multiple double-doubles this season.

Perspectives-Leadership (19-10) will have its hands full against No. 3 Kenwood in the second semifinal at UIC at 7 p.m. The Broncos won the conference matchup 89-55 at Kenwood on Jan. 17.

Broncos coach Mike Irvin has enjoyed a series of firsts this season. It was the first conference title in the Red for Kenwood (22-5) and the first time ever being ranked No. 1 in the Super 25.

The Broncos have never won a city title. They lost to Simeon in the 2016 championship game.

Kenwood has receded from the spotlight a bit since the loss at Benet last month, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. The Broncos are capable of winning every game they play from here on out, which would meaning winning the city and the Class 4A state title.

Guard Dai Dai Ames, a Kansas State recruit, is one of the best players in the state and Calvin Robins Jr. has emerged as a dependable force in the post.

Keep an eye on the matchup between Cole and Tyler Smith, a starting guard at Kenwood that also played at Leo last season.

No. 7 Curie (19-9) and top-ranked Simeon (24-3) will matchup in the first semifinal on Thursday at 5 p.m.

The teams played at Curie on Jan. 26, with the Condors pulling off the victory on a last-second shot by guard Carlos Harris.

Curie is playing as well as anyone in the area right now. Harris scored 35 in a dominant win at Young in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

But that recent loss could be all the extra motivation Simeon needs. The Wolverines have been able to depend on the 6-10 Rubin twins, Miles and Wes all season. Guard Jalen Griffith is a rock solid point guard and leader.

Simeon senior Sam Lewis, an Oak Park transfer, is the one to watch in this game. When Lewis is playing well Simeon takes things to another level.

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