Prep hoops star Jabari Parker names 10 college choices
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Basketball star Jabari Parker has named the 10 college programs he is considering with a year to go before he graduates from high school, and DePaul in his hometown of Chicago made the cut.
Parker tweeted his 10 schools on Wednesday night in no particular order: national champion Kentucky, Stanford, Michigan State, Kansas, Florida, Duke, BYU, Georgetown, DePaul and North Carolina.
“I want to make my decision in November if that’s possible,” he told The Associated Press at the Gatorade national prep athletes of the year dinner a night earlier. “I just need to cut it down so I’ll be able to go on visits and make my decision from there.”
Parker said he hopes to reduce his list to five by this fall, when he will start his senior year at Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy, where he is an A student. He said geography would play a role in his eventual choice.
“I don’t want my family waking up at 12 o’clock in the morning just to watch my games,” he said, “but then again I have to do what’s best for me. I have to go with which program fits me the best and what system and style of play is going to allow me to expand my game out in the pros.”
Last season, Parker averaged 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals in leading Simeon to its third consecutive Illinois state title.
He said this summer has been “kind of a setback in recruiting” because he hasn’t been able to talk to many coaches since he was traveling overseas with the under-17 U.S. team.
Parker was late in joining the other Gatorade nominees in Los Angeles after traveling from Lithuania. He was in and out of the lineup during the world championships because of a toe injury that occurred a couple weeks ago.
“I really didn’t get to play in 99 percent of the games,” he said, “but I was learning how to be a better teammate, cheering on people, being a leader because I know this year being a senior I’m going to have to do that.”
He played in last Sunday’s gold-medal game, scoring 12 points in 14 minutes as the U.S. defeated Australia 95-62.
“I learned how to play basketball for something,” he said of his international experience. “That’s the biggest thing in my age group is getting a gold medal. It’s playing against the world.”
Parker made the trip to Los Angeles with his parents and sister. After losing out as a nominee at the Gatorade dinner, he attended the ESPY Awards on Wednesday night and enjoyed a few days respite from basketball.
“It’s been very hard trying to live up to expectations,” he said, “but as soon as I got here I can be fun and just be around a lot of the next future generation of stars in sports.”
Parker got a chance to spend more time around former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, who visited Parker at Simeon in April to present him with his Gatorade boys basketball player of the year award.
“I know that he’s going to strive to continue to get better because he has everything together off the court,” Mourning said. “When you have that balance in your life it usually pays dividends down the road.”
Mourning recalled telling Parker in April not to be in a hurry to grow up.
“I told him the NBA isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “I also told him you get out of the game what you put into it. People are going to dissect his game and try to find his weaknesses. I told him to work more on his weaknesses than he does on his strengths and then he’ll be more of an all-around player because then you’ve got to pick your poison with him. He’s very versatile at his position, and he’s going to get taller.”
Parker declined to talk about a major religious decision that awaits him when he turns 19 at the end of his freshman year in college. That’s the age when Mormon men decide whether to go on a two-year mission to spread the church’s faith in the U.S. or overseas. Parker is part of a small segment of the U.S. population that is Mormon, and rarer still are the number of blacks like Parker who are Mormon.
Parker’s inclusion of BYU among his college choices is clearly a nod to his faith.
Mourning believes that if Parker chooses to go on a mission that he could give up basketball for two years and successfully return to the sport, citing former NBA center Hakeem Olajuwon, who missed games during his career because of his Muslim faith.
“I’m not putting him in this category, but Muhammad Ali did it,” Mourning said of the boxing great. “He stepped away from the game because of beliefs, and when he came back he excelled at it. He’s got a good enough support group around him that he can come back and perform at a high level if that’s what he believes in.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.