The question came Simeon basketball coach Robert Smith’s way several times in the days leading up to Thursday night’s NBA draft.
Had one high school ever produced two No. 1 overall picks?
Well, his answer became a mere footnote when the Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins instead of Jabari Parker first, who didn’t care to play Hot Rod Hundley to Derrick Rose’s Mark Workman anyway.
Parker went to the Bucks with the No. 2 pick, leaving Charleston (W. Va.) High alums Workman (1952) and Hundley (1957) as the only two No. 1 picks from the same high school, and the 6-foot-8 Parker in prime position to shine early in his NBA career.
Close to home, no less.
“I’m really excited to get to represent the city of Chicago and the city of Milwaukee,” Parker said on the ESPN draft broadcast. “I’m also honored for a team to pick me. ... I haven’t played a game in the NBA yet, haven’t been able to prove it.”
On the eve of the draft, Parker denied a report that he may have tanked his workout with the Cavaliers because he preferred the Bucks.
He also predicted he would land with the Bucks because he believed they seemed more interested in him. “I’m not going to idolize the No. 1 pick,” Parker told ESPN before the draft. “If I get it, so be it.”
The decision was out of his hands this time, but like his choice of Duke over Michigan State out of high school, the Bucks’ personnel appears to provide Parker with a better chance to become a star than that of the Cavs.
He is widely considered ready to step in and be an offensive force, but the Cavs’ ball belongs to point guard and 2011 top overall pick Kyrie Irving.
The Bucks, like Duke, will be able to feature Parker prominently in their offense.
Capable of scoring from the perimeter, off the dribble and in the post, the versatile Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 35.8 from 3-point range in his one season at Duke.
“The NBA is so different,” said Smith, who was with the Parker family at the draft in New York. “It is all for need. Jabari is probably the best player in the draft, but I guess it (the Bucks are) a better fit.”
Smith has had a front-row seat for what he agreed has been the golden age of individual talent in Chicago.
Rose, a 2007 Simeon grad, was the first pick of the 2008 draft, and the Pelicans took Anthony Davis of Perspectives No. 1 in 2012.
St. Joseph product Evan Turner was picked second in the 2010 draft, and if the 2015 draft was tomorrow, Young/Duke center Jahlil Okafor would be the consensus choice to go No. 1.
“It just showcases where the basketball is,” Smith said. “I don’t think this is going to happen again here or in any state, period.”
Westinghouse’s Mark Aguirre (1981), De La Salle’s LaRue Martin (1972) and Carver’s Cazzie Russell (1966) are the other top overall picks from Chicago.