Simeon's Parker wins USA Basketball Award

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Simeon's Parker wins USA Basketball Award

Simeon basketball star Jabari Parker has been named USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year for all men's basketball teams.

The 6'8 junior, rated as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 and arguably the nation's leading high school player regardless of class, is the youngest ever to receive this prestigious national award.

Parker, son of former Farragut, Texas A&M and NBA star Sonny Parker, was the most valuable player while leading the United States team to the Under-16 championship at the FIBA Americas Championships last summer. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

"He has a complete game," said longtime recruiting analyst Van Coleman of Hot100Hoops.com. "He can run the break off the glass as a point forward or known down threes with much improved regularity. He can finish at the rim in traffic or hit the open man off the dribble if double or triple-teammed.

"He makes everyone around him better. And he isn't afraid to do the dirty work on the glass or lock down the opponent's top scorer. He is the total package. He has drawn comparisons to (NBA stars) Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony because of his ability to make things happen both inside off the dribble or post up as well as with the jumper or pass on the perimeter."

Most veteran recruiting analysts, including Coleman and Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports, rate Parker as the top player in high school regardless of class. He is the leader of a Simeon team that is rated No. 1 in the nation and heavily favored to win its third consecutive state championship and fifth in seven years.

According to his father, Parker won't make his college decision until the fall of his senior year. Jabari, who is Mormon, is considering Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Stanford, Brigham Young, Washington, Connecticut, Florida, Louisville, Georgetown, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and North Carolina State.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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