Chicago Select Scholar Athlete Spotlight

Mike Dunigan
Photo by Scott Powers/For the Chicago Sun Times
Chicago Sun Times – January 25, 2008

Getting to know: Farragut's Michael Dunigan
BY Scott Powers

What has been the biggest difference in you this season?
I’ve been trying to become more of an aggressive player and more of a scorer than just a defensive player. It kind of started over the summer playing with MeanStreets. I got my game to be more all-around.

Farragut has had a long line of successful big men: Kevin Garnett, Michael Wright, Elliott Poole, Ollie Bailey. Did you feel any pressure to live up that history?
They told me about them, but I never compared myself to them. I was hoping one day, when I was done, I could compare myself. I thought one day I could see where it takes me.

Did you have any goals entering the season?
I was hoping to go undefeated. That’s not going to happen. The other one is in jeopardy right now, and that’s to win the Red-West. We have to go in and win at Marshall, which will be tough. Right now, I’m trying to really play in the McDonald’s All-American Game. That’s what I really want, aside from city and state.

Why Oregon?
I was considering Georgetown, too, but I realized they picked up two more big boys. I figured I’d go somewhere they were going to lose some seniors so I could work myself into the lineup right away. Also, playing with AAU teammates Matthew [Humphrey] and Josh [Crittle], I would be with people I knew.

Was it something you decided together?
Not really. It was just the best opportunity for all of us. We decided to take it and run with it.

Is it true you told college coaches to text you about recruiting?
When they get you on the telephone, they say they’re not going to hold you, but that’s not true.

What impact has your mom had on your life?
Basically, she’s the person who made me who I am today. Without her, I wouldn’t be anything. When I starting playing this sport, I didn’t want to play. She forced me to play. She said, ‘‘There is no quitting at all.’’ When I first got to Farragut and was on the bench and wanted to transfer, she said, ‘‘You’re already here. There’s no leaving.’’ I decided to learn what she taught and run with it. She’s pushed me for the best.

People are starting to talk about your NBA potential. Is that something you also think about?
It would be nice, but there’s a chance that it won’t happen. There are a lot of people they say have a chance at the NBA and never make it. I have to take advantage of college and being able to have a free education. If the NBA comes, it comes.

Any thoughts about a major at Oregon?
Probably business administration and a minor in Chinese.

What do you like to do away from the court?
I watch a lot of NBA basketball. I also catch up on Oregon games that I taped. I cut down on video games. Too time-consuming.

Any NBA players you admire?
I like Amare Stoudemire and Dwight Howard. Hopefully, I can be just as explosive as they are.

Parker Already the Man for Thornton
BY Scott Powers
Chicago Sun Times – January 25, 2008

Thornton freshman Jay Parker expected big things from himself when he was brought up to the varsity in December. Wildcats coach Troy Jackson didn’t. Jackson gave Parker a chance only because assistant coach Eric Armstrong wouldn’t leave him alone about the 15-year-old guard.

Jackson promoted Parker for the Big Dipper tournament and wanted to give him only a few minutes off the bench. A month later, Jackson has learned always to listen to his assistants because Parker has been very good. Since coming off the bench and leading Thornton to a come-from-behind victory in his varsity debut, Parker barely has left the floor. In his eight varsity games, he has become the Wildcats’ leading scorer and their go-to guy.

Not since Kentucky assistant Tracy Webster started as a freshman at Thornton can Jackson remember anyone coming close to having the same impact. ‘‘I thank God I have him for three more years,’’ Jackson said. ‘‘Can you imagine what he’ll be like in three years?’’ On Tuesday, Hillcrest got a taste of Parker. Despite being troubled by a headache, a cough and a sore throat, Parker scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, including seven in the final two minutes, to help the Wildcats beat the Hawks. He finished with a team-high 16 points.
He nearly did the same against Crane a few weeks ago. He scored 14 of his career-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, but Thornton fell just short in coming back from a 20-point deficit. Even Parker didn’t expect to do this well.

‘‘I’m surprised I can score so much,’’ he said. ‘‘This is real fun. I just don’t want to get caught up in it all.’’
The one person who still can keep him in check is brother Josh, who starred at Thornton and now is a freshman guard at Drake.

‘‘I can never beat him,’’ Parker said. ‘‘[But] hopefully one day.’’