by Ted Cox
Simeon won its second straight boys' Class AA state basketball championship last weekend, and it couldn't have done so in a more distinctive fashion. Star Derrick Rose, who had literally carried the Wolverines to the Public League title and the state championship last year, didn't score a single field goal in the 77-54 final over O'Fallon at Bradley University in Peoria. He netted only two free throws, one in each half. Instead, Rose's childhood running mate Tim Flowers led the way with 35 points and 12 rebounds, and nothing could have been more appropriate.
Rose, who typically wears a "Lottery Pick" sweatshirt--fittingly, since he's probably one and done at Memphis as a freshman next season before jumping to the NBA--has abundant prospects at all levels. In spite of being a remarkably soft-handed big man, Flowers probably lacks a few inches on a pro or even a major college career, which is why he's signed to play at the relatively humble University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee next season. Yet they've played hoops together since they were little kids, and their last game together led to a tearful finale. And it wasn't just a two-man game.
As I wrote following their Public League championship win, this was a team led by Rose, but followed by Bryant Orange and Kevin Johnson (the last scored 20 points in the final). Don't get me wrong, Simeon couldn't have done it without Rose. He led Simeon in its quarterfinal victory last Friday, and while he went down with his head knocked to the floor in the semis against Marshall earlier on Saturday, Simeon still led 12-11 at the quarter when he returned, and the Wolverines never looked back in claiming a 56-44 final. Whether his head injury led to blurry vision or not, Rose's shot was missing in the final hours later, but he still led the team--just not in scoring. Running the point as a guard, he had eight assists, seven rebounds, and four steals--the image of someone letting the game come to him, when thanks to the talent of his teammates it never got there.
As the only Public League team to repeat as both city basketball champs and state champs--at any level--Simeon stakes its claim to being Chicago's best high-school team ever. All I can say is they're the best I've seen--and I saw King's Jamie Brandon and Johnny Selvie with Rashard Griffith as a freshmen, Kevin Garnett's Farragut team with Ronnie Fields, and Chris Head's Westinghouse teams that played like brothers. Simeon is the best, not because it had the best player, but because it had the best all-around team.