SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Simeon players gathered around a small computer screen showing the final seconds of Duke's 1992 NCAA tournament victory over Kentucky.
Rickey Norris began the play call into the recording device: "Christian Laettner catches it, turns around and shoots …"
And Jaylon Tate finished with a high-pitched: "He scoooores!"
The bursts of laughter that followed and accompanied many of Simeon's activities Sunday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame were welcome after a trying week.
Last week, three of Simeon's transfer players were declared ineligible because of residency issues, Simeon and Morgan Park players got into a skirmish following their game and a Morgan Park student was shot to death after the same game at Chicago State. Coach Robert Smith said the trip to the Spalding Hoophall Classic, where Simeon will face Oak Hill (Va.) Academy on Monday, came at a good time.
"It's team-building stuff and getting back our perspective after everything that's been going on," Smith said of the Hall of Fame trip. "It was good to get out of town and get back into basketball mode and get past everything else."
The players started the tour by doing drills with a ball that took measurements such as shooting arc and dribbling force and speed. That turned into a dunking contest on a 9-foot rim, on which Norris unsuccessfully tried several through-the-legs dunks.
Players wandered around the glass cases of artifacts in the museum upstairs, where D.J. Williams examined a summary of former Farragut player Kevin Garnett on the 20th anniversary USA Today All-USA high school team. Williams later joined Jabari Parker to record a faux newscast, losing his composure as Parker smiled into the teleprompter and said, "Hi, I'm say your name."
"That's the big thing, our relationship. That's what we need to get back to, start treating ourselves like brothers," Parker said. "We're still kids. We still have to enjoy high school. That's why we build relationships and bonds. And then they carry on to the court because we've been through so much together."
Parker spoke after a practice at Springfield College during which Smith and his assistants repeatedly reminded the players to turn up their intensity. Smith said Simeon would need it against an Oak Hill team he likened to Morgan Park because of its tendency to get up and down the floor quickly.
"We've been playing well of late," Smith said. "It was hard to get up for Friday's game (against Julian), but they played pretty well. Today was really intense. Hopefully we can have that carry over."
Free throws: Parker was named Sunday to the USA Junior National Select Team that will play at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., in April. … Simeon was set to attend a skills challenge at the college Sunday night, but no Wolverines players planned to participate.
Simeon vs. Oak Hill (Va.) at Spalding Hoophall Classic
Where: Springfield College, Springfield, Mass.
When: 1 p.m. Monday.
Records: Simeon 14-2, Oak Hill 19-2.
Colleen Kane's quick take: A victory over the eight-time mythical national champion could be a needed morale booster for the Wolverines. Oak Hill boasts several Division I recruits, including 6-foot-6 Indiana signee Troy Williams.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times