By Joe Henricksen
There was one team that came into the Whitney Young-Hales Franciscan showdown Sunday night at Chicago
State with three games under its belt. There was another team playing its season opener. You would never have
guessed which team was which after watching Whitney Young, playing its first game out of the gate as the top-
ranked team, absolutely dismantle Hales in all facets. With both teams entering the game with so much to prove, it
was Whitney Young that answered the bell.
For season openers, this was an A+. You just don’t usually get this type of dominating performance in a season
opener, which usually includes turnovers (Whitney Young had just five on the night), poor execution, questionable
shot selection and decision-making, and a lot of nerves. Sure, there was some sloppy play and things Whitney
Young will need to improve on, but the Hoops Report left Chicago State so impressed with coach Tyrone
Slaughter’s Dolphins. Whitney Young is the most talented team in the state and, arguably, one of the deepest teams
this state has seen in a long time. Whitney Young’s depth is ridiculous.
Seniors A.J. Rompza (Central Florida) and Bryan Hall (Northern Illinois) are Division I guards who complement one
another well. Juniors Marcus Jordan and Chris Colvin are high-major talents and matchup nightmares for opponents
because of Jordan’s strength and explosiveness and Colvin’s ability to break anyone down off the dribble. And
sophomore Anthony Johnson is a special talent. He’s not there yet, but he’s the best of the bunch down the road,
oozing with ability that should elevate him among the top players nationally in his class.
There is the inside rotation of 6-7 senior Jake Hager, 6-8 junior Stanford Brown and unheralded 6-3 junior Antonio
Johnson. Others off the bench are talented sophomore Ahmad Starks, unselfish role player Julian Kenner and the
athletic Vernard Roberson.
Whitney Young showcased more than just depth and individual talent. What was impressive is that after just 32
minutes of basketball this team already has an identity. This team is going to come at you in waves, particularly on
the defensive end. They were relentless from the start defensively. They are constantly in the passing lanes, they
contest every shot, they use their quickness and speed in recovery, they play extremely hard and come after you
aggressively. Then in transition is when they appear to put their foot on your throat.
It’s also clear Slaughter has a grip on this team. A quick taunt by one of his players and Slaughter was all over it.
He’s got a plan. And although it’s just one game, the 11 or 12-man rotation Whitney Young has appears to be buying
into it. That starts with Slaughter.
We will see how this all plays out over the course of the next three-plus months. Will everyone remain on the same
page? When the stage gets bigger will individuals start wanting a bigger piece of the pie? And if everyone is
content with their role, will this Whitney Young team be talked about in the same breath as the great 1998 Whitney
Young team when it’s all said and done? There is no question this team has the capability of being special. It’s up to
them to determine how special it is.
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