Point proven: Bob Hambric's desire to prove to people outside the city that Public League teams can win with a disciplined approach came to fruition as Simeon won the first of its six state championships with a 53-47 victory over Evanston in the Class AA final on March 24, 1984. Hambric liked to say Simeon could play any style, and he proved flexible by allowing Tim Bankston (25 points, 12 rebounds) free rein on offense with Ben Wilson in foul trouble.
Surviving city: In an era when only the city champion was eligible to go downstate, both the semifinal and championship games in the 1984 city tournament were among the decade's most noteworthy victories. After beating King 66-58 in the semis, Hambric, who was upset over the transfer of Laurent Crawford from Simeon to King, proclaimed, "Good overcame Evil, just like in 'Star Wars.'" According to reports, a three-point play by Bobby Tribble off a steal and feed from Bankston in the closing seconds lifted Simeon past Robeson 44-42 in the city final.
First time's a charm: The administration's decision to change courses and promote Hambric in the middle of the 1979-80 season looked good a year later when Simeon won its first 20 games and finished 27-2 behind future Loyola star Andre Battle and future streetball legend Tony McCoy. Though Hambric would say years later that this team was better than the 1984 state champs, the "Big Blue Machine" was eliminated by Westinghouse 59-58 in the Public League semifinals. Hambric was particularly proud of McCoy's transformation to a disciplined player and person.
Tragic loss: Ben Wilson's murder on Nov. 20, 1984 was national news, and it still resonates today. Considered the No. 1 high school player in the country, Wilson was shot by Billy Moore after an accidental encounter outside the school. Most people, including players in the Simeon program at the time, were in the dark on the details until ESPN's documentary "Benji" shed some light. "Everyone had their own story about what happened," said Melvin Nunn, who was a sophomore at the time. "But when you hear it from the guy who did it, you can put it together."
Fight at Farragut: The only game Simeon lost in 1983-84 ended before the Wolverines had a chance to win. Farragut was leading 50-49 and at the foul line with nine seconds remaining when the game was called because fights broke out on the court and in the stands.
Deon Thomas recruiting controversy: Jilted by Thomas in favor of Illinois, then-Iowa assistant coach Bruce Pearl produced a recorded phone conversation in which he claimed Thomas admitted to accepting $80,000 and a Chevy Blazer from Illinois assistant coach Jimmy Collins. Thomas and Collins repeatedly denied the accusation and Thomas was never charged with any wrongdoing by the NCAA, though Illinois received sanctions for lack of institutional control.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times