All posts by caseybannon2019

They Don’t Make Them Like Blake Peters Anymore

A state championship would have been nice, but it still wouldn’t have been enough for Evanston’s sharp-shooting sophomore. 

By Casey Bannon
Medill Reports

Before he stepped onto the Carver Arena floor in Peoria to play for a state championship; before Friday’s semifinal matchup, when he set an IHSA Class 4A shooting record; before any game this season in which the bespectacled Evanston sophomore terrorized nets and opposing coaches alike; and even before he racked up SportsCenter’s top play and an ESPY award nomination as a 15-year-old freshman, Blake Peters went through his routine.

He rises promptly at 5:30 a.m.– before the sun appears and well before the morning bell for class rings. He then drives to pick up his assistant coach and trainer, Stacey Moragne. Groggy and grumpy at the 16-year-old’s insistence on waking him up this early, Moragne said he typically stumbles into the passenger seat and the two talk shop. They arrive at Evanston’s old-school Beardsley gymnasium with a plan, and depending on whether Blake will see man or zone defense that night, begin their scripted regimen. In order to keep up some blistering efficiency numbers, Peters needs to see the ball go through the net starting 13 hours before tipoff.

As he disregards the rim and instead scorches the net over and over again, there’s an uncommon focus and discipline in his teenage eyes that peer out through Kareem-styled goggles. But then again, there’s little common about Blake Peters.

“Some of my friends back in middle and elementary school would talk about things that have no meaning, like video games,” Peters said. “Like who cares? And they’re talking about gossip and all this. It’s never mattered to me.

“I’ve just never had time for all of that because it’s always been about basketball and school. If [I’m] not getting those two things done, there is something wrong with [my] life.

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Birdies & Bird Watchers: The Dispute Over Jackson Park’s Golf Course

By Casey Bannon
Medill Reports
 

In 1899, Jackson Park became the first golf course built west of the Allegheny Mountains. Two decades later, some of the first black men’s golf leagues were formed on the property. Now, over a century after the first golf shots were struck on Jackson Park’s fairways, its golf course is the center of South Shore’s attention once again.

In partnership with Golf Channel and NBC’s Mark Rolfing, Tiger Woods’ proposed design to combine Jackson Park and South Shore’s 27 holes into one destination, championship style track seems close to fruition. The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance has stated that the project will be 100 percent privately funded, will create new sources of revenue for the South Side community, possibly host a professional tournament and will help expose local youth to life’s beautiful game. However, nothing gets built on this historic ground without some noise.

The renovation’s detractors have claimed that the potential $60 million project is a deal done behind closed Chicago doors. That there isn’t enough data to support the course being an economic engine. That the logistics of such a complicated re-design are far away from a Spring 2019 groundbreaking. That the loss of conservation areas and recreation facilities are too steep of a price to pay for hopes of hosting a PGA Tour event. And that 18 high-end holes might actually be less inclusive than 27 cheap ones.

In a battle over what’s best for their beloved community, the two sides have similar motives– but very different ideas on going about revitalizing Jackson Park.
 

Photo at top: Youth caddies look on as South Shore locals tee off at Jackson Park. (Chicago Parks Golf Alliance)

Diallo’s triumphant dunk is half-Superman, half-amazing

By Casey Bannon
Medill Reports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — He flew over Shaq like Nate Robinson did with Dwight Howard. He dunked and then dangled on the rim by his forearm like Vince Carter. And he tore open his jersey to reveal a Superman shirt like Cam Newton.

On a night where creativity, culture and controversy collided, Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Hamidou Diallo stole the show and then slipped away with a dunk contest victory on All-Star Saturday night.
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Bucks-shots: Former Milwaukee greats get their Hall of Fame chance

By Casey Bannon
Medill Reports

CHARLOTTE, N.C.– The 2019 Basketball Hall of Fame finalists announcement felt like a 1980’s Milwaukee Bucks reunion. First-time finalists Jack Sikma and Marques Johnson joined Sidney Moncrief and coach Del Harris as part of the 13 finalists announced Friday at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.

For added measure, Moncrief’s college coach at the University of Arkansas, Eddie Sutton, was also announced as a finalist.
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Ja’Mal Green looks to become youngest Mayor in Chicago history

By Casey Bannon
Medill Reports

On Nov. 26, Ja’Mal Green made history by becoming the youngest person ever to file the 12,500 signatures required to make it on February’s Chicago mayoral ballot. Despite his age, the 23-year-old activist and entrepreneur is no stranger to voicing his opinion on anything Chicago-related. Now, he’s hoping to use that voice from behind the mayor’s desk. We caught up with the rising star on his campaign trail to find out why he’s running for office and how he got to this point.

Photo at top: Ja’Mal Green talks on the phone during his mayoral campaign. (Casey Bannon/MEDILL)

Love and Curling

By Casey Bannon
Medill Reports

The sport of curling in America capitalized on its Olympic gold medal victory earlier this year with a spike in participation and renewed interest among young people.  No other sport sees a bigger surge in search traffic index during Olympic years than curling, according to Google Trends. The Chicago Curling Club is one of the organizations trying to keep that interest alive when the national stage fades away. Founded in 1948, their Northbrook ice sheet is home to Second City Curling and “Learn 2 Curl” programs, which aim to teach and grow the game around the neighboring Northern Illinois communities.

The game is simple: Get more stones closer to the center of the bullseye than your opponent. Each player throws two of the team’s eight stones while teammates reduce friction on the pebbled ice by sweeping along its path. After eight rounds, the team with the most points wins. At this curling club, that means you have to buy the first round of drinks.

Medill Reports caught up with some members of the curling club on Halloween night and found characters, costumes and commitment.

Photo at top: Adam Miller and Sara Guam get married at the Chicago Curling Club. (Photo Credit/Chris Neseman)