Simeon senior Talen Horton-Tucker knows what he’s getting into. Horton-Tucker is the Wolverines’ best player. That’s a role that comes with massive expectations and responsibilities.
Simeon is the state’s premier program and the goal is simple: state title or bust.
I’m ready for it,” Horton-Tucker said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys step up and take the leadership role on at Simeon. That has helped me prepare for this moment I’m in.”
Horton-Tucker, a 6-5 Iowa State recruit, is a force on the perimeter and in the paint. He’s willing to fill whatever role Simeon coach Robert Smith requires of him this season.
“Anything they want me to do I’ll do,” Horton-Tucker said. “It’s the same as last year but just in a bigger spotlight. I need to be a leader, that is the biggest thing I have to do this year.”
The No. 2 Wolverines are loaded with talented seniors to assist Horton-Tucker with that leadership. Messiah Jones, a 6-5 Drake recruit, is a force in the post and joins Horton-Tucker as a legitimate Player of the Year candidate.
Shooter Kenny Pittman and swingman Bakari Simmons both contributed off the bench last season and will take on larger roles this year.
“Bakari will be huge with his length and his ability to play multiple positions,” Smith said. “Those guys should be the two most improved players compared to last season.”
Simeon has some holes to fill in the backcourt. Evan Gilyard graduated and Kezo Brown, the hero of last season’s city title game, isn’t playing this season.
“He was around for a little while and just decided not to play,” Smith said. “He’s been going back and forth. The door is always open for him when he wants to come and play.”
Guard Kejuan Clements was solid last season and should be able to shoulder a larger role now that he’s a junior.
“People don’t see all the little things [Clements] does,” Jones said. “He’s a big part of this thing. He could score more if he wanted to, but he’s also probably our best defender.”
Two senior transfers, guards Xavier Pinson and Zion Young, could provide some scoring punch on the perimeter.
“You never know what you are going to get out of transfers, just because it is the Public League,” Smith said. “I don’t know if they are going to be used to this whole thing every night. You may see some good stuff from them though, they are two really good players so we will see what happens.”
Smith expects freshman guard Ahmad Bynum to make a major contribution.
“He’s a really good player,” Smith said. “He’s so mature for his age, he isn’t scared to compete and that is half the battle right there.”
Simeon opens the season on Saturday at UIC against St. Louis Chaminade in the Chicago Elite Classic. The Wolverines will travel to the City of Palms holiday tournament in December, one of the nation’s most prestigious events. It’s the first appearance for Simeon, which will still play in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament later in the month.
“We’re going to be on the road a lot, we have to make sure to take care of our bodies,” Jones said. “We’re going to do well down there at City of Palms. Hopefully we can win, we have the pieces to win and be the number one team in the nation.”Tags: Simeon