By Joe Henricksen
Maybe the worst kept secret in Chicago prep hoops became official today — Jaylon Tate is headed to Simeon. The talented junior guard, who starred the past two seasons at De La Salle, is officially a part of the two-time defending state champs.
With Tate in the fold, the stable of talent coach Robert Smith currently has — and in the future — makes Simeon the clear-cut favorite to win state titles over the next two seasons. That would put the Simeon basketball program in rare company, with only Peoria Manual’s four consecutive state championships in the 1990s equaling the rare possible feat Simeon could accomplish. But there is plenty of basketball to be played over the next two years before talk of a Manual-like four-peat can be discussed.
With another weapon like Tate in the mix, however, the Wolverines add a piece to a team that already returns the top three prospects from last year’s state title team. Simeon, which beat Warren this past March to capture the school’s fifth state championship — and fourth under Smith — will welcome back an impressive amount of talent that includes:
Jabari Parker. The 6-8 junior is the top player in the state of Illinois regardless of class, ranked by some as the No. 1 prospect in the country and is the top player for the U.S. National Team.
Steve Taylor. The top-rated prospect in the Class of 2012 in Illinois, the 6-7 Taylor sports several high-major offers and is the lone senior in Illinois ranked in anyone’s national top 100.
Kendrick Nunn. Another member of the U-16 U.S. National Team, Nunn is the Hoops Report’s No. 3 ranked prospect in the Class of 2013 and is a future high-major player.
Jaleni Neely. A varsity veteran who has put together a solid spring and is a pure point guard. Neely, who already sports Division I offers, knows the Simeon system and understands his role. A recent injury, however, is cause for concern.
Kendall Pollard. This little-known junior is ready to blossom. He’s a versatile 6-5 player who can get a little done inside and on the perimeter and has been playing well until an injury slowed him down of late.
Jaylon Tate. The 6-1 point guard is among the top dozen prospects in the Class of 2013 and played a pivotal role in De La Salle’s success the past two years.
The cupboard on the lower levels certainly isn’t bare. A pair of 6-4 freshmen — Dennis Williams and Brandon Hutton — will be fixtures for the Wolverines in time and be highly-coveted prospects as well. Williams, in particular, has a chance to be Simeon’s next big thing with continued development.