Simeon High School, which is located in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the most famous and well known basketball programs around the country. Famous alumni include Derrick Rose, Kendrick Nunn, Jabari Parker, Bobby Simmons, Talen Horton-Tucker, and others.
Robert Smith has been the head coach at Simeon for 19 years and has had an incredible run in building the dynasty at the Chicago powerhouse school. He plans on retiring after this upcoming high school season and I had the chance to speak with him regarding that, history of the program, Chicago basketball, and more.
“A lot of people in town call us the Duke of Illinois, cause we have a family like atmosphere. Just the rich tradition of Simeon basketball. We are one of the few schools in the state that has been on top since the 70s.” Coach Smith says regarding the culture and history behind Simeon High School.
“The culture is just what it is, it’s just a winning culture. Of course we’ve had a lot of great players that come through here. It is all about the school and winning than it is about “self”. It is an honor to just put that Simeon jersey on.” Coach Smith continued to answer when asking about the culture over the years.
Now Chicago basketball, for those who do not know, has been known for decades when it comes to basketball. I asked Robert Smith to just talk about Chicago basketball as a whole.
“Well I mean of course New York always says they are the “mecca”, but we feel like we are the “mecca” of basketball. We do not get enough recognition as we probably should. When you look around college basketball and the NBA, Chicago has their hand print all over it.
Why people don’t give us as much credit? I don’t know. Like I tell people, the difference between us, is that we can play any style of basketball. We can play like they play on the West Coast, we can play like they play on the East Coast, that is the difference between us and other cities. I just don’t think we get enough credit on what we do or how we play but it is what it is.” He explains.
Simeon has kept the trend of success going over the last few years, including last season where they reached the IHSA class 3A semifinals while playing a national schedule. I asked coach Smith to reflect on last season’s team as they were also ranked as one of the top ranked public schools in the country.
“Last year’s squad was a good team. You know, I do not think anybody expected us to get where we got last season. A lot of people underestimated us. Our seniors really stepped up and our juniors. The Rubin twins had transferred in and they had a really great season for us. That is what kind of took us over the top, with those guys.
Our guard play was second to none, they were really really good. Those guys have been on varsity for years now. Aviyon Morris and Jaylen Drane have been on varsity since they were freshmen. Jalen Griffin, who was a junior last season, has been on varsity since he was a freshmen also and they have been through the wars already.” He answers.
The Wolverines are expected to be ranked in the preseason top-25 national rankings and public school rankings coming into the 2022-2023 high school season. They have the talent once again, and as always, will play an elite national schedule over the course of the season.
“We bring back a lot of people, we bring back a lot of guys, and that was the big thing. We bring back the Rubin twins, who have both committed to Loyola-Chicago, and then we have two guys who transferred in. Sam Lewis, who committed to Toledo, and Kaiden Space, who has multiple offers already.
Our younger guys, Rashad Mckinnie is going to be a prospect people need to watch out for over the next couple of years. Steve Turner, a 6-foot-10 forward, is turning out how we thought he would be as a freshman and he starting to get that capability to do some stuff. I think we have a really good shot of winning a city and state championship. We still have to get on the court and play the games. I really think we have a really good shot at it here in Illinois and I do believe we will be one of the best teams in the country.” Coach Smith answered.