A few minutes talking to Chicago high school basketball star Jabari Parker is refreshingly informative, reflective and positive.
It sounds as if Parker is looking back on a college career completed – despite the fact he’s entering Duke next season as one of the most heralded recruits they’ve had in some 20 years.
He is an 18-year-old going on 25.
Saturday, Parker and 21 of the nation’s other top basketball recruits will compete in the Jordan Brand Classic at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. For most, the high-school all-star game is the ‘last act’ before graduations and preparation for the upcoming college basketball season.
“Everything in my city is negative,” Parker said of how he feels his hometown is portrayed in national media. “[The media] try to bring it down so much with the violence and I’m an African-American male in my community…going to college and that’s big time. I want to represent them in the best form, the best manner just to keep them close to my heart so they can see that there’s a young [guy] out on the South Side doing big things.”
Staying in college?
Parker of course is referring to his decision to play for Duke’s legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski next season. He announced the choice shortly before Christmas last year and has said he may consider staying in college more than one season, which is almost unheard of in today’s ‘one and done’ college basketball culture.
TheGrio’s 100: Jabari Parker, high school phenom plays with purpose
Parker said college will give him the chance to mature and build relationships, adding that Kentucky’s ‘one and done’ didn’t appeal to him.
“I’m going to look into that,” Parker said of staying in school. “I love the whole attitude of ‘staying in college,’ because I want to take advantage of it. Getting a free education is big time in my family.”
Arguably the nation’s top prospect, Andrew Wiggins of West Virginia’s Huntington Prep, has yet to declare. He was unavailable for comment after Thursday’s practice.
Parker led Chicago’s Simeon High to four state titles in his four years. His jersey was retired near the end of last season, joining teammate Kendrick Nunn and former Simeon greats Ben Wilson, Bobby Simmons and Derrick Rose.
Follow theGrio’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj