Shumpert the first, hopefully not the last

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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

Iman Shumpert is apparently the only person to have his jersey number officially retired by OPRF High School. That's quite interesting, considering the school is more than a century old.

Shumpert, who, back in June, was drafted by the New York Knicks in the first round of the NBA Draft (17th overall), was on hand at OPRF's game against Downers Grove North on Friday night for a ceremony to have his No. 32 jersey officially plastered on the north wall of the field house near the scoreboard, forever. Adorned in white, high-top Adidas, shiny black pants, blue shirt and black scarf wrapped around his svelte neck, the 6-foot-5 Shumpert looked comfortable in his old stomping grounds.

He didn't hide behind an entourage or wait until halftime to sneak into the gym for the ceremony. He sat in the front row of the bleachers, cheering on the Huskies. During the ceremony, the only person who seemed to be shying away from attention was Shumpert's former high school coach, Al Allen, who sheepishly ducked behind Shumpert's brothers when his name was announced. Shumpert, on the other hand, felt right at home, even stuck around after the ceremony to chat and pose for photos with admiring students and teachers.

Now no one will ever wear a No. 32 basketball jersey for the OPRF boys basketball team. It's quite an accomplishment to be the first. Not even OPRF graduate Eric Kumerow, who in the early 1990s was a first-round pick in the NFL Draft (16th overall), had his jersey number retired by the school. But maybe he should. He played three seasons for the Miami Dolphins.

There was talk that legendary baseball coach Jack Kaiser's jersey number was retired, but, while technically it is not being worn by anyone, it has not officially been retired. Current head baseball coach Chris Ledbetter explained: "When I took over the program I decided that as long as I was the coach, no one would ever wear the number 20 jersey at the varsity level. It was done out of respect for my former coach and mentor. When we purchased the new fence a few years ago I asked that his initials and number be placed on the fence which they were. It was never anything official."

Ledbetter, who played multiple sports for OPRF as a student, and now coaches and teaches at the school, said that Kumerow is definitely deserving of the honor.

"He is still, in my opinion, the most dominant athlete to ever compete at the high school. People still bring up his name when I refer to OPRF," said Ledbetter, who added former Olympian Dani Tyler is another name worthy of the honor. Tyler was on the U.S. Olympic softball team that won gold in 1996.

Shumpert is certainly deserving of having his number retired, even without yet playing a game in the NBA. He was a true team player at OPRF and has given back since graduating in 2008. According to head boys basketball coach Matt Maloney, the former Huskie has worked with Adidas to donate shoes and equipment for the varsity program. That's a considerate gesture, proving that No. 32 isn't going to soon forget his old stomping grounds.

Any others you think should have their jersey number retired at OPRF? Go to oakpark.com and let us know.

Contact:
Email: bspencer@oakpark.com Twitter: OakParkSports

Reader Comments

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c dahlgreen  

Posted: December 9th, 2011 2:22 PM

chuck hoag

FYI  

Posted: December 9th, 2011 10:56 AM

The new administration is doing a great thing by honoring legends. Iman is first because he played under this administration. Im sure there will be a few to follow. Eric Kumerow, Dani Tyler, Sean Lawrence, Ellis Coleman, Ben Shelton, Jack Kaiser, Al Allen to name a few. Have some patience.

Friar Up from Oak Park  

Posted: December 6th, 2011 9:58 PM

A well deserved honor for Mr. Shumpert, who was a great high school player and is by all accounts a fine person. Regarding retiring Kumerow's number...while he obviously had a great career, his number shouldn't be retired based on his teams' 0-2 record vs. two less than average Fenwick squads. No village championship, no retired number.

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