I’ve been highly intrigued by Jabari Parker ever since I first read about him in the Sports Illustrated feature that called him the best high school basketball player since LeBron James. That article also highlighted the fact that Parker is a practicing Latter Day Saint or Mormon. I was also raised Mormon so this intrigued me greatly as well, and I had the chance to interview Parker last July at the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards.
What does this mean? Well, it means Parker is no longer considering DePaul, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. He also recently added Connecticut to the list and they were granted a home visit, but obviously did not make the top 5.
Parker is scheduled to visit Duke on Oct. 27 and Florida on Nov. 2. He will probably make visits to the other 3, but nothing is for sure in college basketball recruiting.
“He thought about it and looked at the programs. That’s the five he had,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said Friday. “It took him a long time to find. Everyone was really good, but he had to make a decision. He really respected everyone recruiting him and wanted to thank them for their time. He knew he couldn’t make everyone happy.
“He’s just ready to go out and visit the campuses and get a real feel for the players and the campuses. Him, his family and myself will sit down and see what he comes up with. This is Jabari’s decision. We’re just making sure he’s being guided. I tell him to follow his heart.”
Of particular note, considering Parker’s faith, is the inclusion of BYU in the the top five and it is no gimmick or act of generosity.
“All five schools are schools he’s really interested in and really thinking about attending,” Smith said. “He’s really thinking about BYU. I know his faith has a lot to do with it. The coaching staff has been great with him. They’ve been a winning program. That’s one of his choices.”
The hardest omission for Parker? Not including the college near his home, DePaul University. (DePaul is also my alma mater, so that one stings personally a bit, because I would have loved to attend Parker’s games live.)
“I think that was the hardest one of them all because he talked about coach (Oliver) Purnell and things of that nature,” Smith said. “It was hard for him to call them and let them know. I understand that. That’s his home school. That’s a rough decision.”
Parker is a sharp young man as evidenced by his selection as the Gatorade Boys’ Basketball player of the year as a Junior last year; Gatorade requires their athletes to maintain a high GPA as well as outstanding moral character. His decision will have a major impact on college basketball and I can’t wait to see where he ends up.