Top 5 Chicago Athletes Under 25
5.) Johnny Knox (24) Knox is a huge threat for opposing teams both on offense and in the return game (He went to the 2009 Pro Bowl as a returner). He has lightning quick speed and great instincts when he gets the ball in his hands. In the return game he can flash past defenders and find the hole. While he still has to work on his route running and hands a bit, he has the quickness that can truly take him far in the NFL.
4.) Starlin Castro (21) This kid is ridiculous. While he still has to work on some mechanics from a defensive standpoint, he has so much range at the shortstop position that it is almost impossible to hit a ground ball past him. He is quick with his throws and his balance when throwing on the run is second to none. On offense he can smack hits anywhere in the field. He is still a bit to aggressive and thinks he can hit pitches that are a bit outside (which he usually does) but in time he will become more patient, walk more, and drive up his OBP. Oh yeah, he is also the youngest Cubs player ever to be an All Star. Castro has a very bright future in Chicago.
3.) Patrick Kane (22) Rookie of the Year in 2008, two-time All Star (’09, ’11), Silver Medalist at 2010 Winter Olympics, and Stanley Cup Champion in 2010. Oh yeah he also scored the goal that won the Stanley Cup on that year. So why is he only third? He is still too immature. He has all the talent in the world and could be even better if he would dedicate himself more to the sport. He seems like he is more concerned about being a Chicago celebrity and partying than he does training for the season. He has one of the best shots in the game and can move on the ice with the best of them. But until he gets his head on straight and stops worrying about distractions off the ice he will not be the best player he can be.
2.) Derrick Rose (22) Derrick Rose is the best PG in the game. No other player makes my jaw drop and watch replay after replay trying to figure out how he is able to contort his body to make a layup like Derrick does. He was the Rookie of the Year in 2009, MVP in 2011, twice an All Star (’10, ’11), and took the Bulls deeper into the playoffs than any team since MJ left. It is obvious he has the skill set to dominate the NBA for years to come. However what really makes him a great individual and role model is his work ethic and his humility. Never has he blamed anyone other than himself for a poor performance. He recognizes his faults and he works at them. He recognized his 3 point shooting was not where it needed to be. Rather than abandoning the shot all together to focus on his driving abilities, he has worked every offseason to improve his 3 point FG%. His rookie season, his percentage was .222 and it is now .332. I’m not saying that he is the greatest 3 point shooter now, but he realized there were areas where he could improve and he went to work at it immediately. He has given Bulls fans reason to believe that we can stop holding onto Michael as the only good thing to happen in Chicago basketball.
1.) Jonathan Toews (23) Two time All Star (’09, ’11), Gold Medalist at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Best Forward at 2010 Winter Olympics, Blackhawks Captain, Stanley Cup Champion in 2010, and Conn Smythe Trophy winner (2nd youngest player to receive the trophy). Toews is one of the best Centers in the league. His vision on the ice has put him in an elite group of passers. He can always seem to find the open man who has a possible shot on net. His leadership has earned him the nickname ‘Captain Serious’ because he is all hockey all the time. He, like Rose, understands what it takes to become the best possible athlete and works at it everyday. He never calls out opposing teammates (even if they did screw up). Rather he motivates those around him be the best that they can be as well. His outstanding play and leadership are evident in two awards which I have already listed: Best Forward at 2010 Winter Olympics, and 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy. He is a true leader, a hard worker, and an outstanding athlete who will not let the Blackhawks suffer the same fate as they did in the 2011 playoffs. He wants to get his team back on top and will stop at nothing until that goal is reached.