When I spoke to Jabari Parker last summer at the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year awards, Parker was hopeful that he could return to the awards the following year. It doesn’t quite look like it will work out that way.
When I asked Parker if he was trying to be back at the Awards next year he responded, “yeah, hopefully and if my health helps me, hopefully I can play basketball again. I just hope that I can be here again, and that I can live among the stars for another day.”
News that Parker had fractured his foot came just weeks after that comment from him, and I should have found it strange at the time that he was questioning whether his health would hold him back. I believe that the injury set him back on winning the award two years in a row, because much of the year he was playing himself back down to his playing weight.
He is national honor society member, gets great grades, and gives a lot back to the community, so he has all that going for him. The Gatorade Awards look at all of those qualities in their student-athletes, which is refreshing. You could argue though that Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Andrew Wiggins all had better seasons than Parker. Ultimately, it won’t matter for Parker; he is still going to be a star for the Duke Blue Devils next year, and they will be fully loaded for a potential Final Four or even National championship run. Hopefully, I’m wrong about Parker, because I like the young man’s work ethic, humility, and skill. It won’t be the last we’ve heard from him that’s for sure.