Chicago has arguably the best collection of young talent across all professional sports of any city in the country. Looking at the roster of players that are still learning to shave, it’s hard to determine which player is Chicago’s favorite young athlete.
The Blackhawks are loaded with players that can barely drink, as are the Bulls. The Bears have a healthy number of impressive players in their early- and mid-20s, too. The White Sox have a few younger players, but the Cubs don’t have any regular contributors younger than 26 years old (sorry boys, you’re out).
Let’s take a look at some candidates for Chicago’s favorite. All of these players are 25 years old or younger.
Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks
Toews was named the Captain of the Hawks before he could legally consume alcohol, and is now regarded as one of the better tw0-way forwards in the game. He was voted a starter for the Western Conference in last year’s All Star Game, and scored 13 points in his first 17 playoff games last year, and led the Blackhawks in goals with 34 last year.
Toews will turn 22 at the end of April, as the Hawks prepare to host playoff games.
Patrick Kane, LW, Blackhawks
Kane, the cover boy for video games and magazines alike, still can’t legally consume alcohol. He’ll turn 21 on November 19, and is establishing himself as a legitimate elite scorer in already his third professional season. He, like Toews, was voted a starter in last year’s All Star Game and will likely be a part of the USA team in the 2010 Olympics.
Kane was the 2007-08 NHL Rookie of the Year.
Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
Rose, a local high school star at Simeon, spent enough time at Memphis to get to the brink of a National Championship before jumping to the Association. He just turned 21 on October 4, and has already led the Bulls back to the playoffs. His urban legend too a big step in a classic series against the Boston Celtics this past spring.
Rose was named the 2008-09 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Forte, a second round pick of the Bears in 2008, was accountable for the highest percentage of his team’s offense last year in the entire NFL. He accumulated 1,715 total yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie year, and now has Jay Cutler next to him in the Bears’ backfield. The Bears offense is evolving with Forte and Cutler, with great things expected.
Forte will turn 24 on December 10th.
Gordon Beckam, INF, White Sox
Beckham was playing in the College World Series at Georgia while the White Sox were fighting for the AL Central division title in 2008, and jumped to US Cellular Field already in 2009. In his first 103 games, Beckham was a solid offensive contributor, hitting .270 with 43 extra-base hits and 63 RBI. He even made the tough transition from shortstop to third base in the majors.
Beckham turned 22 in the middle of September, and was named The Sporting News’ 2009 AL Rookie of the Year.
Other candidates for Chicago’s Favorite Young Athlete
Blackhawks: Dave Bolland (23), Brent Seabrook (24), Dustin Byfuglien (24), Kris Versteeg (23), Andrew Ladd (23)
Bulls: Tyrus Thomas (23), Joakim Noah (24), Luol Deng (24)
Bears: Greg Olsen (24), Johnny Knox (22), Earl Bennett (22), Al Afalava (22)
White Sox: John Danks (24), Tyler Flowers (23)
Cubs: Josh Vitters (20)