Simeon's Jabari Parker wants to win an NCAA championship.To do that, logic says, the best high school basketball player in the nation will have to attend either Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina or Michigan State to have the best chance in what figures to be his one-and-only year in college before opting for the NBA draft.Makes sense, doesn't it?Simeon coach Robert Smith isn't so sure. He offers another spin on the "Where will Jabari go?" scenario that surely will be a major subject of debate on many college websites in the next several months."You never know. Jabari is a different kid," Smith said. "His recruitment is wide open. He hasn't narrowed down (his list of schools). But he does want to win a national title. And he is looking at schools that have a capability to win a national title."It is speculated that Parker will follow the path taken by other celebrated players who spent only one year in college before declaring for the NBA draft; Carmelo Anthony, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. Of that illustrious group, only Anthony and Davis won NCAA titles."But remember, Harrison Barnes came back for a second year. So did Jared Sullinger," Smith said. "Jabari fits their mold as well as Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis. I never would be able to say that's what he is going to do. We'll have to sit back and watch."Smith said that at some date in May or June, he will sit down with Jabari and his parents to narrow the list of schools. After the youngster makes some more unofficial campus visits this summer, Smith predicts that the nation's top-rated player will make a decision in the fall prior to his senior season.Smith, who closely observed the recruiting of Derrick Rose, marvels at how well Parker has handled his celebrity. One long-time observer of high school sports in the Chicago area said the only other athlete who handled the pressure and hoopla so well was former Thornridge star Quinn Buckner."It couldn't be me," Smith said. "I would have cracked by now if it was me. There are so many things he has to uphold at such a young age. He is mature. But his home situation is so great. His father (former NBA player Sonny Parker) has been through it. And his mother wants him to stay humble and realize that basketball can be taken away at any time."Jabari realizes he has to respect the game, that when the ball stops bouncing, he must have something else to fall back on. Now he is looking forward to the challenge of next season. He already is talking about it. It will be his team. He must be more of a leader, more vocal. He is up for the challenge. It is his turn. He wants to lead us to a fourth state title in a row."Choosing a college might be more difficult for Parker than winning a fourth state title in a row and repeating as Illinois' Mr. Basketball.He is said to adore Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. But his mother is overly impressed with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. And his father admires North Carolina coach Roy Williams.But what about the KentuckyNikeJohn Calipari influence? How can you ignore their recent track record of success? And what if, as one veteran observer of the recruiting wars speculates, Nike offers Sonny Parker a prestigious position in the giant shoe company's hierarchy?In some respects, longtime recruiting analysts Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye agree with Smith that Jabari is different from a majority of highly touted recruits."Like Rose, he is a very humble, quiet, respectful kid, not full of himself. Yet he is quietly confident and aggressive," the Schmidt brothers said. "But he prefers to let others get involved and ease his pressure. He knows when to take over."His passion for the game and his work ethic are unrivaled. He will put in the hours working on the little things that most people do not notice, including mechanics on his shot and ball-handling. He was born as a team player with the inside knowledge of the team aspects of the game that just cannot be taught."While it can be argued, as Smith insists, that Parker is better than Rose at the same stage of their careers, that Parker is a better all-around and more versatile player, other critics claim he has a way to go before he can be rated ahead of Kevin Garnett and Anthony Davis as high school seniors.
Where will Jabari go? What will he do?
April 23, 2012, 5:04 pm