Next Year’s Unique Top Recruit Will Announce His College Decision in NovemberPosted by EJacoby on June 18th, 2012
Jabari Parker has been in the news a lot lately, much more so than some other recent top recruits. The consensus #1 player in the 2013 high school class was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in May, in which the magazine dubbed him “the best high school basketball player since LeBron James.” Stories about the 17-year-old have been flooding in ever since, many detailing his devout Mormon faith and whether or not he’ll serve as a missionary when he turns 19 as many LDS members do. He was interviewed recently on Good Morning America and is also the featured star for USA Basketball’s U-17 team, which will compete in the World Championships later this month. But the biggest news of all broke on Sunday, when Parker said that he’ll announce his college decision this November, long before the spring signing period begins. The rising senior from Chicago wants “to do it for me because I want to get it over with before the season starts.” But perhaps he’s also doing it for his father and former NBA forward, Sonny Parker, who recently said, “I think Jabari is the first high school player who has experienced this social media stuff,” and that he’ll limit Jabari’s media availability this summer to let him live like a regular kid. Parker has 14 schools on his list and appears a bit overwhelmed by all the attention, so he’ll presumably have the hard part of recruiting out of the way before his senior season begins.
Parker has ‘narrowed’ his college list down to the following 14 schools: BYU, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Washington. It’s anyone’s guess who the top candidates are now, though we’d expect that BYU, Illinois, Northwestern, and DePaul made the cut mainly for show to support his local and religious ties. Recruiting analysts report that he has great relationships with coaches Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and Tom Izzo at Michigan State, though Parker himself spoke about his ties to DePaul (his best friend is a walk-on there), Illinois (with its new head coach, John Groce), and Kentucky (hearing from fellow Chicagoan Derrick Rose about John Calipari). He plans on cutting the list down to eight over the summer.
Parker is a versatile 6’8″ small forward who “simply affects the game in so many positive ways” and has “an elite basketball IQ,” as described by ESPN’s scouting report. He averaged about 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three blocks during a junior year that saw Simeon Academy win its third consecutive Illinois state championship. He was named Gatorade National Player of the Year – just the fourth non-senior to win the award – contributing across the board with unselfish play and dominant offensive moves. The Sports Illustrated article writes that he has “handles like a point guard” and a first step that “has been compared to Oscar Robertson.” Yet he can also shoot the three and has a 7’0″ wingspan that allows him to defensively alter shots with ease in the paint. Parker, already the unanimous #1 player in next year’s class, has the complete package of skills but must now live up to enormous expectations.
Stay tuned to see how Parker’s situation develops, whether he embraces the media attention this summer or indeed tries to stay out of the spotlight as his father insists. The one sure thing about Parker is that he’s unique – both as a player and as an individual. “Basketball is what I do, it’s not who I am,” he says, and there’s the possibility that he could serve his two-year church mission when he turns 19, something that former Mormon star athletes such as Danny Ainge and Steve Young did not do. Standing out from the pack seems like one of Parker’s goals. We now know that he won’t follow the road map of last year’s top high school recruits – Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad – who waited until the final days of the spring signing period to choose a school.
Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him on Twitter @evanJacoby.