Tomorrow basketball phenom, Jabari Parker, will declare his decision on where he will be playing college basketball. The Chicago forward, who plays at prestigious Simeon, has narrowed his list down to BYU, Florida, Duke, Stanford and Michigan State. There have been few clues leaking from Parker’s camp on any preferences between the five finalists. Therefore, it would have to be assumed that the Spartans have a 20% chance at landing Parker.
So, what if Michigan State does indeed land the no. 2 player in the 2013 class?
Parker is a program changer, even for an already elite program like Michigan State. He would instantly be one of the best players in the country and transform a top 25 Spartan team to a top five team in the country. It is crazy how much the decision of one teenager can change a large program in the short term, but Parker could indeed change Michigan State’s projection over the next couple of years.
Tom Izzo is used to getting big time recruits. Izzo has scored four top 25 recruits in since 2008, a very impressive feat. However, he has not gotten a top five recruit since Shannon Brown in 2003, who was also from the Chicago area. Michigan State is a top program, but I still would not put them up with Duke and Kentucky talent wise. They have not had NBA star type talent recently. Freshman Gary Harris has the potential to be a special player at the next level, but Parker is nearly a sure thing. To get to the absolute top level as a program, the Spartans need to get superstar talent. That could start with Parker.
Another big picture aspect to the potential gains of getting Parker tomorrow is the Michigan State presence in Chicago. The south side of Chicago has produced some great players over time including Isiah Thomas, Doc Rivers, Tim Hardaway, Juwan Howard, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis and now Jabari Parker. That is two of the last five no. 1 overall picks, several MVP’s and dozens of All- Star selections.
Chicago is becoming even more saturated with top players. The no. 1 player in the 2014 class, Jahlil Okafor, reigns from Whitney Young in Chicago, Sam Thompson and Quentin Richardson’s alma-mater. Okafor is one of two five star recruits along with five four star recruits form the city. Both he and fellow five star prospect, Cliff Alexander, are looking at Michigan State. Most Big Ten coaches would give an ear to have any advantage in Chicago recruiting. The public league is a jungle, filled with shady recruiting. It is built on connections and reputations. If Izzo can get Parker, his reputation in Chicago could substantially grow. By signing Parker, Michigan State could solidify their footprint in Chicago high school hoops.
It is clear that Jabari Parker’s decision Thursday carries more than just an impact on the next couple of years for Michigan State. It is bigger than that. Parker could propel the Spartans in to that next class, a very small group of schools who consistently produce high level NBA talent, as well as open up the Chicago pipeline of elite talent.