Chicago Sports

Top 10 NFL Teams with the Most Fans

Just like baseball and basketball, American football is one of the most watched sports in America. Americans are passionate about this sport and never stop showing their support for the teams. Whether in the rain or the sun, no matter the time and place of the games, they prioritize being there and showing their support for their home teams. The fans support in many ways; buying the teams’ jerseys, posters, and figurines, taking part in NFL betting, attending every game to cheer the players, etc. 

Thousands of fans of the sport come out to watch the game, pouring heart and soul into their teams and dreaming of celebrating the team’s victories and trophies with them. Watching your team play and win the game is one of the best and most unforgettable moments for every die-hard fan, and if you have been opportune to experience these moments, you’d understand what the true love of a fan is. To most fans, the NFL is more than just a sport; it has become a tradition for years and will continue to be within and outside the United States. 

Of all the 32 teams in the NFL, it is hard to see a team without its fan base. But of all the teams, some have the largest fan bases. This is why we have decided to make a rundown of the top 10 NFL teams with the most fans. Who do you think has the best and strongest fan base and popularity among the teams? This article will reveal this and provide reasons the teams were chosen. 

Let’s talk about the teams with the most fans, from the least popular to the top 1 team. 

Number 10: Seattle Seahawks

Number 9: Denver Broncos

Number 8: Chicago Bears

Number 7: Philadelphia Eagles

Number 6: New England Patriots

Number 5: Las Vegas Raider

Number 4: Pittsburgh Steelers

Number 3: Dallas Cowboys

Number 2: Buffalo Bills

Number 1: Green Bay Packers

Number 10: Seattle Seahawks

The team was established in 1974 but didn’t join the NFL until 2002. Seattle is the home city of the team. The Seahawks are the only team to have ever played in the AFC and NFC and have won 10 division titles and three conference championships. There haven’t been many teams that have maintained constant success. This may be why the Seahawks have an outstanding record. Although it has recently developed into one of the league’s most devoted fanbases, we won’t know how devoted these supporters are until the team begins to struggle in the upcoming seasons.

Number 9: Denver Broncos 

Established in 1959, the Broncos started playing in 1960 and joined the NFL in 1970. Even with the poor performance of the team in recent seasons, the Broncos’ fans have maintained their loyalty to the team. The Broncos consistently rank among the league leaders in attendance, regardless of the team’s performance on the field. Denver had eight home games last season and averaged 76,236 fans per game.

Number 8: Chicago Bears 

The Bears have won nine NFL championships, including one Super Bowl. The team was established on September 20, 1919, and joined the NFL just a year after its establishment. The team has a reputation in America as one of the finest sports teams in the NFL. Their fans have stayed with them in times of victories and droughts and have shown their loyalty and faith in the team constantly. 

Number 7: Philadelphia Eagles

Since being established on July 8, 1933, the Eagles have always had a strong and vibrant fan base. The team had an intense rivalry with the New York Giants and some other teams. Eagles’ fans are everywhere, and you can easily identify them with their jerseys in public. The fan club keeps increasing as the team continues to make them proud. 

Number 6: New England Patriots

The Patriot was established in 1959 and joined the NFL in 1970. The Patriot fans are known to brag about their victories, even the old ones. The team has always sold out all their matches, so it’s always a full crowd every time they have a game. 

Number 5: Las Vegas Raiders

Despite the constant moving of the team from one city to another, the fans have stayed with the team through thick and thin. These fans are some of the most loyal fans of all time. 

Number 4: Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s not surprising that the Steelers have a fervent fan base since they are one of the NFL’s most decorated teams. The fierce loyalty of Pittsburgh sports fans has paid off in recent years with championships in football, baseball, and hockey. 

Number 3: Dallas Cowboys

Dallas led the league in attendance last season, drawing 93,421 fans on average per game, 14,000 more than the Packers, who were ranked second. The Cowboys’ fan base was the largest in the NFL in 2021. 

Number 2: Buffalo Bills

It’s been a long time coming. Since the final of the team’s four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl in 1993, Bills supporters have had to endure countless bad years. They lost every one of those Super Bowls. Regardless, the fans have remained more loyal than ever. You’d always see the fans active on social media, proving their love for the team. 

Number 1: Green Bay Packers

As of today, the Packers’ fan clubs are the largest. The city is small, but the Packers fans have extended beyond just the city’s people. They have gained fans in many parts of America and outside the country. Last year, the team gained over 70,000 new fans for its nine games in Lambeau Field. 

 

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The questions surrounding Bulls forward Patrick Williams continue

The questions aren’t just going to go away.

The verbiage may be different, the timing of when they’re asked has changed, but Patrick Williams wasn’t about to get the free pass he received as a rookie or even last season when he was a second-year player battling through major left wrist surgery.

This is Year 3 for the Bulls forward. The NBA season when young players are expected to finally showcase the hard knocks learned through the first two years, and flash.

Compounded when that player is the fourth overall pick in the draft like Williams was in 2020.

And while the 21-year-old continued saying all the right things – like he did again on Wednesday – it’s getting to the point where actions carry the day, while words are starting to sound empty.

Especially in the wake of his latest preseason debut in which he shot 2-of-7, scored just five points, and looked out-classed by 2019 first-round pick Zion Williamson.

So does he even understand his importance in this organization’s success moving forward?

Not only did he reiterate that he did, but admitted that there was a growing pressure with that.

“It’s definitely different,” Williams said of that pressure this season. “Whether it’s [the media], my teammates, my coaching staff, they’re all just telling me to be aggressive. Not really because I was a certain pick or anything like that, but just because I have the talent to. Whether I was the fourth pick or the 40th pick, if you have the talent, you have the size, guys are going to want you to do it. When I [am aggressive], we’re a better team, and I’m a better player.”

A point that DeMar DeRozan has been trying to get Williams to buy into since last year.

While some in the Bulls organization wanted to undersell his passiveness, DeRozan chose to live in reality.

It was DeRozan who spent a week this summer taking Williams into his workout world, and DeRozan who set the bar of what this 2022-23 campaign has to look like for his younger teammate.

“It’s big,” DeRozan said of Williams’ expected jump. “And I told him that. Even before the season ended last year, I was telling him how important this summer is for him.

“Me telling him that wasn’t to put pressure on him. It was more so giving him the comfort of him understanding what he can do on the court.”

But something seems to continually get lost in translation.

While Tuesday was a meaningless preseason game, what remained alarming was Williams said he understood what he needed to do on the court, but again didn’t deliver. Too many passive moments, too many possessions of being a backseat passenger very content with the seating arrangement.

“I think for Patrick his focus and concentration needs to be totally from the shoulders up,” coach Billy Donovan said. “That’s where it is. Sometimes you see a guy like [rookie] Dalen [Terry Tuesday] night, he’s just innately [aggressive] … you know what I mean. Sometimes Patrick can overthink, over-analyze and when he does get to that place where he’s maybe thinking too much or he’s not being instinctive, and then he gets to that point where he looks passive. And I think that’s something that he’ll have to continue to grow and get better at. That’s where the challenge is.”

But changing who he is comes with some difficulty. Williams said he knew that and it was being addressed daily.

“Mentally, it’s a huge part of it, what you tell yourself,” Williams said. “The self-talk you have with yourself throughout the game. I’ve been trying to focus on that.”

Hopefully for Williams and the Bulls it works soon, because the questions aren’t going away.

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How the White Sox can get back on track in 2023

The White Sox clearly dropped the ball this year. However, they can turn it around next year with the core they have. Here’s how.

2022 was quite a disappointment for the Sox. After many had high hopes for this team with the high level starting pitching they have, the White Sox have gone 4-9 in their last 12 games, and have fallen out of playoff contention. Here’s what went wrong and how they can fix it to become contenders next year.

First off, it all starts with management. Now that Tony LaRussa is gone, the White Sox need to find a new managerial leader. They can go with someone like Don Mattingly who is now available and had a solid few years managing the Dodgers. They can also go with Joe Espada, bench coach for the Astros, who has a great understanding of how the game has evolved and has already interviewed for head coaching positions for the Rangers and Cubs.

Next up, adding another big bat to the lineup would give this team the spark they need. The White Sox have a lot of young talent in the likes of Tim Anderson, Eloy Jiménez, and Yoan Moncada. They are one big piece away from becoming a contender come playoff time in 2023. I think cutting ties with A.J Pollock is the right move, as he’s vastly underperformed this year. They should make an effort to sign Aaron Judge, or Michael Brantley this offseason. They can even go with another big name on this list if any of these guys opt out of their contracts. A high level bat will push them to the next level.

One portion of the team that needs to be fixed is the bullpen. The Sox relievers have combined for a 4.09 ERA thus far, which is 11th worst in baseball. I know they went out and got Joe Kelly at the deadline, but he hasn’t looked like his old self, pitching to a putrid 6.23 ERA during his tenure so far with the White Sox. Adding another solid arm or two and having that bullpen depth will take this team a long way.

As far as starting pitching is concerned, the White Sox do have a lot to look forward to. Dylan Cease has looked fantastic this year, pitching to a 2.06 ERA which is the second best in baseball among all starters. Michael Kopech has looked solid this year, as well as Johnny Cueto, who was a nice acquisition earlier in the year. Lance Lynn has always been a reliable arm in the rotation. Lucas Giolito is having a down year pitching to a 5.05 ERA, but if he can get back on track and be close to the pitcher he’s been the last couple years, this White Sox rotation can be a force to reckon with heading into next year.

We can all agree the collapse of the White Sox so far this year hasn’t been the prettiest site to watch. With that being said, the team does have a great foundation and with the right additions, this team can come back better than ever next year, and have a shot at competing for a title.

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Bears QB Justin Fields: ‘Not gonna make the perfect decision every time’ on scrambling

Not that the Bears are loaded at wide receiver, but one of the concerns about quarterback Justin Fields this season is that he has been too quick to scramble out of the pocket. In doing so, he’s missing opportunities to throw.

Fields addressed that Wednesday and a very brief news conference, saying that “for the most part” he has made the right call when deciding whether to stand in the pocket or take off running.

“You’re not gonna make the perfect decision every time,” he said. “You’ve just gotta live with that and move on to the next play.”

That’s not easy when the offensive line struggles to pass block. Pro Football Reference charts them allowing pressure on 29.3% of passes, which is the second-highest frequency in the NFL.

After a rocky rookie season, Fields’ performance has dropped off under the new coaching staff. He ranks last in the league in completions (34), completion percentage (50.7%), yards (471), touchdown passes (two) and interception (6% of his passes). His 58.7 passer rating is 15 points behind Mitch Trubisky for worst in that category.

Fields had his best game of the season Sunday in the 20-12 loss to the Giants, but still wasn’t very effective. He completed 11 of 22 passes for 174 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and lost a fumble. He threw for just 57 yards in the second half.

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Should the Chicago Bulls trade for Myles Turner?

Myles Turner would be great addition to the Bulls. Do they have enough to offer for him?

Many of the contenders in the Eastern Conference made moves to improve their chances being a contender for the NBA championship. From Atlanta trading for Dejounte Murray, the Cavaliers trading for Donovan Mitchell, the return of Ben Simmons for the Nets in addition to another year for some of the experienced teams in the conference such as Milwaukee, Miami, Boston, and Philadelphia.

As the Bulls try to make the playoffs for the consecutive years for the first time since 2014-2015, the Bulls still need to find some toughness particularly in defensive categories such as blocks and rebounds. The Bulls ranked 25th in blocks and 22nd in defensive rebounding last season. Many Bulls fans wish the the big men on the team could provide more in terms of defensive rebounding and blocks. In the playoff series lost to the Bucks last season, the Bucks had almost more than 50 defensive rebounds than the Bulls and Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 28.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists and had his way in the paint because of the lack of interior defensive presence.

If the Bulls want to go deep in the playoffs, they would need a big man to match up with the many talented big men in the Eastern Conference. So what about the Pacers Myles Turner? Turner is a 26-year old center who has been mentioned in several trade rumors this summer and has several contenders for his services. Turner has career averages of 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and has shot 35% from three-point range. Also, he has led the league in blocked shots twice.

Reportedly, the Pacers are asking for a lot in return for Turner and will continue to field offers for the young center. The Pacers are coming off a 25-57 season and look to be tanking this season to get a high lottery pick in a draft that is projected to be loaded with talent. The Pacers traded Malcolm Brogdon this summer and his $22.6 million salary to the Celtics for young players and a draft pick. The Pacers are looking for young cheap players and to shed salary so that they could be possible free agent destination in the future.

So who would the Bulls dangle in a trade for Myles Turner? The most obvious candidate would be Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic is on the last year of his deal which would be attractive to the Pacers because they do not want any long-term salary commitments and could possible get some draft picks that the Bulls have to offer. If the Pacers made the trade before the NBA trade deadline, they could even try to trade Vucevic to another team that is looking for an offensive-minded center who has some playoff experience.

Some of the concerns teams have with Myles Turner is that he is coming off a foot injury that limited him to 42 games last year. The year before he was limited to 47 games due to an injury to his toe. Also, he is not quite the scorer that Vucevic would be and has never averaged more than 14 points per game. However, most teams who are trading for Myles Turner see his ability to defend and provide spacing with his ability to make shoot from the perimeter.

The Bulls do not have many options on the roster to improve their defense and one of their best perimeter defenders Lonzo Ball will miss significant time with a knee injury. Can general manager Arturas Karnisovas pull off another deal like he did with acquisition of Demar Derozan and Lonzo Ball? If the Bulls want to be a contender, then they need to address the need for a defensive presence in the front court and Myles Turner is the ideal player to fill the gap.

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Should the Chicago Bulls trade for Myles Turner?

Myles Turner would be great addition to the Bulls. Do they have enough to offer for him?

Many of the contenders in the Eastern Conference made moves to improve their chances being a contender for the NBA championship. From Atlanta trading for Dejounte Murray, the Cavaliers trading for Donovan Mitchell, the return of Ben Simmons for the Nets in addition to another year for some of the experienced teams in the conference such as Milwaukee, Miami, Boston, and Philadelphia.

As the Bulls try to make the playoffs for the consecutive years for the first time since 2014-2015, the Bulls still need to find some toughness particularly in defensive categories such as blocks and rebounds. The Bulls ranked 25th in blocks and 22nd in defensive rebounding last season. Many Bulls fans wish the the big men on the team could provide more in terms of defensive rebounding and blocks. In the playoff series lost to the Bucks last season, the Bucks had almost more than 50 defensive rebounds than the Bulls and Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 28.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists and had his way in the paint because of the lack of interior defensive presence.

If the Bulls want to go deep in the playoffs, they would need a big man to match up with the many talented big men in the Eastern Conference. So what about the Pacers Myles Turner? Turner is a 26-year old center who has been mentioned in several trade rumors this summer and has several contenders for his services. Turner has career averages of 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and has shot 35% from three-point range. Also, he has led the league in blocked shots twice.

Reportedly, the Pacers are asking for a lot in return for Turner and will continue to field offers for the young center. The Pacers are coming off a 25-57 season and look to be tanking this season to get a high lottery pick in a draft that is projected to be loaded with talent. The Pacers traded Malcolm Brogdon this summer and his $22.6 million salary to the Celtics for young players and a draft pick. The Pacers are looking for young cheap players and to shed salary so that they could be possible free agent destination in the future.

So who would the Bulls dangle in a trade for Myles Turner? The most obvious candidate would be Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic is on the last year of his deal which would be attractive to the Pacers because they do not want any long-term salary commitments and could possible get some draft picks that the Bulls have to offer. If the Pacers made the trade before the NBA trade deadline, they could even try to trade Vucevic to another team that is looking for an offensive-minded center who has some playoff experience.

Some of the concerns teams have with Myles Turner is that he is coming off a foot injury that limited him to 42 games last year. The year before he was limited to 47 games due to an injury to his toe. Also, he is not quite the scorer that Vucevic would be and has never averaged more than 14 points per game. However, most teams who are trading for Myles Turner see his ability to defend and provide spacing with his ability to make shoot from the perimeter.

The Bulls do not have many options on the roster to improve their defense and one of their best perimeter defenders Lonzo Ball will miss significant time with a knee injury. Can general manager Arturas Karnisovas pull off another deal like he did with acquisition of Demar Derozan and Lonzo Ball? If the Bulls want to be a contender, then they need to address the need for a defensive presence in the front court and Myles Turner is the ideal player to fill the gap.

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Behind the scenes with Cubs’ viral drone video

Gliding over the “L” as it approaches Addison, through Murphy’s Bleachers, up over the top of Wrigley, inside the stadium’s iconic scoreboard, into the locker room and out onto the grassy field of the Friendly Confines in time for the first crack of the bat.

That’s the twisty-turny, soaring journey viewers take in a four-minute drone video that was published across the Cubs’ social media as an end-of-season thank you message to fans. As of Monday evening, the video has been viewed more than 7 million times on Twitter alone, not to mention views through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

The viral video was shot earlier this summer, with the help of a Minneapolis-based production studio. With a “lean crew” of just three people, Sky Candy Studios paid a visit to the Windy City in late July, the company’s founder Michael Welsh said.

Over the course of a Saturday and a Sunday, Welsh piloted an FPV-style drone with a GoPro attached through the nooks and crannies of Wrigleyville. The “high-precision drone,” which weighs under nine ounces, is meant to cruise through tight spaces and wouldn’t do any damage if it were to bump into something — or someone, Welsh said.

“It’s incredibly small and safe and allows you to do these maneuvers that in the past you weren’t able to do with drones,” said Welsh, who initially started flying drones about 12 years ago when he was in the Army.

The final product includes five different videos that are stitched together “with some creative editing magic,” Welsh said. For each of the five videos, Welsh says they probably did about five takes, with a lot of prep and talking with the people who appear in the shots. Inside Murphy’s Bleachers, for example, they let patrons know a drone was coming through and they should ignore it. At first, Welsh said people can’t help but look at the camera flying by them, but by the third take “they’re kind of bored with it.”

“You have to run these takes a handful of times before you get it right, because there’s always a small thing that goes wrong,” Welsh said, admitting he did crash one time attempting to fly the drone through the open windows of a firetruck — a shot that appears around the video’s one-minute mark.

Similar style videos have gone viral in recent years, including an inside look at the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility. Welsh also piloted the drone in that video, which was used as promotion for the HBO series “Hard Knocks.” And back in early 2021, video from a drone flying through a Minneapolis bowling alley got more than 2 million views on YouTube — Welsh appears in that one and helped produce it.

When they got the chance to work with the Cubs, the Sky Candy team leapt at it, he said. When scoping out the “iconic” stadium, Welsh said the first thing he thought of was “we have to fly through the scoreboard.”

“That’s just something you look for — those fun moments to fly through,” he said.

While there have been some big hits, Welsh has also had some flops before, he said, adding that the key to making a successful video is giving the viewers something new and interesting in every frame.

“I think people get captivated by it,” he said. “I think it’s almost as if the drone is your avatar and you get to feel as though you’re flying through spaces in a very short amount of time.”

Keeping the viewer engaged also depends on the sounds that are included. Using sounds from the scene — in this case, things like the train, announcers and fans cheering — puts the viewer there in a way that wouldn’t be the same if music were put over the video, Welsh said.

But that immersive sound experience is not as easy as simply gathering noise as you fly. Since the drone is loud, the crew doesn’t capture the audio while gathering video. Instead the separate elements are mixed in post-production and, for the Cubs video, was largely reliant on archival audio clips provided by the team — such as the instantly recognizable voice of Harry Caray.

The video tour of Wrigley ends just as the Cubs take the field, but for this part, the drone was benched. The crew had initially planned to fly the drone onto the field, but the MLB wasn’t willing to play ball, so instead Welsh followed Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki onto the field with the GoPro in hand.

It ended up being Welsh’s favorite part of the video — but also the most nerve-wracking.

“You only get one shot at that,” he said. “I was running up the stairs and I was so worried I was going to slip and fall and ruin the shot.”

But it paid off. “I thought it was really cool to end the video running out into the field right before opening pitch, we’ve never had that opportunity before to end it like that and I think the fact that we got access to run out with a player — that was my favorite part.”

Courtney Kueppers is a digital producer/reporter at WBEZ. Follow her @cmkueppers.

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Bears put Cody Whitehair on IR, designate N’Keal Harry to return

The Bears have put guard Cody Whitehair on injured reserve just one game shy of his 100th with the franchise.

After putting him on IR on Wednesday afternoon, the Bears designated wide receiver N’Keal Harry to return from his own IR trip. Harry had high-ankle surgery after getting hurt in August. He has three weeks to practice before the Bears must decide whether to activate him for game day. Head coach Matt Eberflus said the Bears “like where he is” physically and wouldn’t rule out a return Sunday.

“Now we’re going to see him work in individual [drills],” Eberflus said.

Whitehair hurt his right knee in Sunday’s 20-12 loss to the Giants. Monday, coach Matt Eberflus said that he had a serious injury, but that he would not miss the rest of the season. Players put on IR can return after missing a minimum of four games.

Whitehair is one of the Bears’ elder statesmen. Picked out of Kansas State in the second round, Whitehair is one of two Bears regulars still left from the 2016 draft class. Safety DeAndre Houston-Carson was picked in the same draft, but was released and re-signed by the team earlier in his career. Long-snapper Patrick Scales is technically the longest-tenured Bears player, having signed toward the end of 2015.

With Whitehair out, the Bears will use Lucas Patrick at left guard and Teven Jenkins at right guard, Eberflus said Monday. That leaves Sam Mustipher at center; he was in danger of losing his spot to Patrick, who was signed in March to snap but hurt his hand in the first week of training camp.

The Bears traded a 2023 seventh-round pick to the Patriots for Harry, the onetime first-round pick out of Arizona State, in July.

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Chicago Bears’ offensive line ranked last in pass protection through four weeks

The Chicago Bears have the lowest pass block grade through four weeks.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Chicago Bears’ offensive line has been the worst pass-protecting group in the NFL this year.

Team PFF pass block grade on true pass sets through Week 4 (no PA, no screens, etc.):
1. Eagles – 75.1
2. Broncos – 72.6 (Russ?)
t-3. Chiefs – 68.4
t-3. Browns – 68.4
5. Falcons – 64.3
32. Bears – 27.3
t-30. Dolphins – 30.3
t-30. Giants – 30.3
29. Rams – 31.4
28. Lions – 37.7

This lack of protection was most apparent last week after quarterback Justin Fields was pressured on a whopping 51.4% of his dropbacks versus the New York Giants. Fields has struggled immensely to start the 2022 season, but pressure like this is making it near impossible for him to have any success.

While the Bears did make moves to try and upgrade the o-line this off-season, none of them have panned out so far. Many were excited to see rookie right tackle Braxton Jones win the starting job in training camp, but he is currently the 70th-ranked tackle in the NFL this year. The Bears added Doug Kramer and Lucas Patrick to try and fill the center position, but injuries to both have left Sam Mustipher stuck in that spot. Mustipher has been abysmal in pass protection this season, and he finished week 4 with a 1.5 pass blocking grade.

While changes are obviously needed on the offensive line, a long-term injury to right guard Cody Whitehair will limit what changes the Bears can make. The Bears are likely stuck using Mustipher and Jones for some time now, so the team will just have to hope the line can improve at some point.

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High school basketball: Syracuse-bound Alyssa Latham leads Homewood-Flossmoor

Alyssa Latham’s trip to Colorado Springs a few months ago had an unexpected twist.

Latham, a 6-1 forward from Homewood-Flossmoor, was one of 30 players taking part in USA Basketball’s 18-under women’s national-team tryouts.

She didn’t make the final cut but was seen for the first time by Syracuse coach Felicia Legette-Jack.

Legette-Jack, who had just taken over at her alma mater a couple of months earlier, was on the recruiting trail and liked what she saw of Latham. The feeling was mutual.

”I really loved the coaching staff,” Latham said. ”They go by character, academics and basketball. I love coach Jack. She’s really cool, very genuine.”

In early August, a couple of months after the trials, Latham committed to Syracuse. Besides the chance to play in a top Power Five conference in the ACC, there was a considerable academic draw, as well. Latham intends to pursue a career as an architect, and Syracuse has one of the oldest and most well-regarded architecture schools in the nation.

Landing at a Power Five program is the latest milestone in a career that began years ago.

”I started playing basketball in third or fourth grade,” Latham said. ”My dad had me in the driveway a couple of years doing bear crawls and all that stuff.”

She’s the latest in a long line of players on both sides of her family. One of them, maternal grandmother Vivian Taylor, played for Farragut, Malcolm X and Lincoln College and was an All-American, Latham said.

Besides the family history on the court, Latham can boast a blue-collar approach. H-F coach Tony Smith can attest to that.

”Oh, man, she’s just the ultimate team player,” Smith said. ”She’s going to do whatever it takes to win. . . .

”Her freshman year, she came in to defend and rebound. She ended up being one of the best defensive players in the state for her year [in school]. Her sophomore year, we asked her to score some.”

The offensive side of Latham’s game has continued to develop.

”I’ve really been working on my shot, my three-pointer, my midrange game,” she said.

Effort is something that comes naturally for Latham, Smith said.

Smith, who won four state titles at Bolingbrook between 2006 and 2011, has coached some of the best players in the state in the last 20 years. He said Latham fits right into that category.

”She’s right up there with the best of them,” Smith said. ”She’s a kid who works. . . . She’s a kid who wants it.

”You could tell her to go shoot 100 free throws, and you don’t have to watch over her. Like [former Bolingbrook star] Morgan Tuck, like the rest of the great ones.”

Latham and Smith hope this can be a special season for the Vikings, who went 19-9 and reached the sectional finals last season.

”Yeah, I’m feeling pretty confident for this year,” Latham said. ”We have four girls returning [and] a couple of freshmen coming up who are pretty good.”

And one of the best players in the country to lead the way.

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