Don’t Forget About Me, America… Signed, Jabari Parker

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 21st, 2013

There are a few names that stand out among the loaded crop of freshman talent entering college basketball this season. Kansas signee Andrew Wiggins is the one you’ve heard most about. Kentucky’s Julius Randle is another headliner. And Aaron Gordon, who made waves this summer while winning MVP with Team USA at the Under-19 FIBA World Championships, has so many YouTube dunk reels that any college basketball fan with even a marginal interest in the art of the slam (and there are a lot) must have seen him on tape by now at least three times. There’s one other name that hasn’t received anywhere close to as much publicity as his looming impact on the upcoming college basketball season – and the ACC and national championship pictures – merits: Jabari Parker. It’s a strange thing, really, that Parker is being overlooked in conversations about this year’s top freshmen. Don’t get me wrong, college hoops diehards and recruitniks have known about Parker for years. Most casual sports fans should remember him, too. He was only on the front cover of, like, the most popular sports magazine in the United States – his 6’8″ frame draped in a yellow Simeon high school uniform, plastered in front of a murky Chicago skyline, the words “The best high school basketball player since LeBron James is… ” printed beside him. (Perhaps Wiggins’ recent appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated distracted attention from Parker’s placement in the same magazine?)

Don't Forget About Me, America. (credit: RNO)

Parker Introduced Himself at Duke Friday Night (credit: RNO)

That edition came out less than two years ago (May 2012, to be exact). People should remember. Instead, most of the hype about this year’s insane freshman class has revolved around Wiggins, Gordon and Randle – with a late push from Kentucky wing James Young, a player Wildcats coach John Calipari believes has a chance to be the No. 1 pick in next summer’s draft, according to ESPN college hoops writer Jason King. None of those players is expected to flop in their first respective (and probably last) seasons of college hoops. These aren’t ordinary top-ranked recruits; they are recruits ranked near the top of one of the greatest recruiting classes of all-time. The guys being talked about most frequently should be great – tremendous talents with bright professional futures. To use standard recruiting terminology, none of them, most experts assure, will be “busts.” Not Wiggins, not Randle, not Gordon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The 2013 Recruiting Class Might Just Be Better Than You Think

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 18th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The 2012-13 college basketball season was excellent. Truly, it was – from the buzzer beaters to the rotating wheel of No. 1 seeds to Florida Gulf Coast and on through every grinding Big Ten showdown and Doug McDermott scoring explosion and Russdiculous moment stashed in between. It was great. You name it, last year had it all – but for one critical distinction. It didn’t have elite freshmen talent. There was no Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant or even a John Wall to satiate the eager eyes of casual fans who pay only a passing glance to college hoops right around NCAA Tournament time to get a better feel for that year’s upcoming NBA draftees. They want to know who can make their teams better at the next level; the excitement and mystique of college basketball is beside the point. Who cares if college basketball is awesome regardless of how “loaded” the top of the draft is?! We want franchise-changing one-and-done pros! I don’t see any this year! This makes me angry!

Players like Gordon at Arizona and other top-ranked 2013 stars at other select programs are why this  freshman class has the chance to be one of the best in recent memory (AP).

Players like Gordon at Arizona and other top-ranked 2013 stars at other select programs are why this freshman class has the chance to be one of the best in recent memory (AP).

Readers of this site, I’d like to presume, do not follow that train of thought. While Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Trey Burke, Otto Porter and Victor Oladipo are the crème de la crème of this year’s lottery group, none are likely to evolve into max-contract team-defining superstars, and guess what? The 2012-13 season still rocked. College basketball doesn’t need transcendent star power to retain its elemental excellence, but even the purists among us can easily admit: It’s more fun when the Durants and Davises and Derrick Roses of the world are pushing their respective teams to new heights. There, you win, NBA fan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story