Jabari Parker Is...

Sports Illustrated
Published: May 21, 2012
By: Jeff Benedict


THE BEST HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYER SINCE LEBRON JAMES, BUT THERE'S SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT TO HIM THAN INSTANT NBA STARDOM: HIS FAITH



Jake Flannigan filmed every in-state basketball game played by Chicago's Simeon Career Academy during the 2011--12 season. He saw Simeon's star forward, Jabari Parker, score 40 points one day and block 12 shots another. But his lasting impression of Jabari was formed when the camera was off. After a home game in which Jabari barely missed a triple double, Flannigan, a producer at Comcast SportsNet Chicago, waited outside the locker room for an interview. Jabari never appeared. He had used another exit to return to the court for the jayvee game and was behind the bench passing out water.

"The other varsity players were out in the hallway, talking to girls by the snack stand," says Flannigan. "The best player in the city was being the water boy for the jayvee. It's hard to root against a kid like that. He's on top of the world, but he's incredibly humble."

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To Serve or Not To Serve?

Sports Illustrated
Published: May 21, 2012
By: Jeff Benedict, J.J. Feinauer


This summer North Carolina freshman Stilman White and Harvard freshman Corbin Miller will, like thousands of Mormon Division I student-athletes before them, begin serving two-year missions for their church, during which they will perform public service, study the Bible and teach the gospel to non-Mormons. "A lot of people ask, 'If you're living the dream playing basketball at North Carolina, why give it up?'" says White, a guard from Wilmington, N.C. "It's something I've wanted to do since I was little. The fact that Coach [Roy] Williams was supportive of my serving a mission played a huge role in my decision to go to North Carolina."

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College Football and Crime

SI.com
Published: March 2, 2011
By: Jeff Benedict


Few football programs had a more difficult season in 2010 than the University of Pittsburgh. Led by running back Dion Lewis, a Doak Walker candidate, the Panthers were the preseason pick to win the Big East and go to a BCS bowl. But things quickly began unraveling -- on and off the field.

In a span between mid-July and late September, four players were arrested for four separate, violent crimes.

First, senior defensive end Jabaal Sheard was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest after allegedly throwing a man through the glass door of an art gallery. Authorities told SI that even after an officer arrived on the scene, Sheard continued to punch the victim in the face as he lay on his back, bleeding. Sheard was suspended from the team. But after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct on Aug. 4, 2010, he was reinstated for the 2010 season.

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Lessons to be learned from the SI/CBS News investigation

SI.com
Published: March 2, 2011
BY: Jeff Benedict


Today Sports Illustrated and CBS News unveiled the results of an unprecedented investigation into the backgrounds of college football players. More than a dozen reporters, writers, researchers, editors and producers worked on the project.

Over a six-month period we conducted criminal background checks on all 2,837 players whose names appeared on the rosters of SI's 2010 preseason Top 25 poll on Sept. 1. We turned up 204 players (7%) who had been charged with 277 incidents or crimes. Nearly 40 percent involved serious crime.

A project of this scope has never been undertaken. First, vital information was gathered on every player (date of birth, race, sex, hometown, etc.), a tedious process that entailed using everything from team media guides to players' individual Facebook pages and everything in between. Second, this information was furnished to clerks of courts, record keepers at police departments, prosecutors' offices and state criminal record repositories.

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New Scrutiny For Recruits?

Sports Illustrated
Published: March 2, 2011
By: Armen Keteyian & Jeff Benedict


The NCAA's annual convention in January featured sessions focusing on topics ranging from academic accountability to achieving gender equity. One subject the NCAA may soon be discussing is the recruiting of players with criminal records. When presented with the SI/CBS News findings and asked if schools should conduct criminal background checks on recruits, new NCAA president Mark Emmert was open to digging deeper. "I'd certainly welcome a good debate about what this data means and how we can best address it," said Emmert.

A few days earlier, at the American Football Coaches Association's annual convention, several top college coaches expressed curiosity and concern over the findings of the investigation. Many thought it would be a good step for conferences to mandate background checks. That would prevent any school from gaining a recruiting advantage by not requiring prospects to submit to the background checks.

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