Friday saw another trademark moment for college basketball in the state of Illinois as high school superstar Jabari Parker committed to Duke University. Parker is yet another player in Illinois that has slipped through the fingertips of the universities in the state. This is a problem that many states deal with but the state of Illinois hasn’t learned to fix.
Parker wasn’t even considering any of the schools in his home state. In the 1970s and early ‘80s, DePaul University controlled college basketball in Illinois and was on national television all the time before ESPN took over and DePaul’s value was reduced greatly by more people seeing more teams around the country. The University of Illinois has had some great Chicago players just like DePaul but never capitalized on a Final Four appearance eight years ago. The Illini are chasing now and while Illinois is a top-10 team this season, getting a player like Parker may have allowed the Fighting Illini to compete for a national title year after year. That fact was one not lost on Parker in choosing Duke.
If the schools in Illinois are smart, they will learn to work with the Public League in Chicago even more than they are now and possibly some big-time prospects will finally stay in the state. It’s going to be a long and hard battle though for schools like DePaul and Illinois but for their fanbases and the schools themselves, keeping players in-state would be a great option. It will be easier said than done though.
Andy Schmidt is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ASchmidtSports or like his Facebook page.