Small forward Jabari Parker is the consensus top player in the class of 2013 but more importantly is the top priority for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff. The 6’8, 220-pound Chicago native is the son of former Golden State Warriors first round pick Sonny Parker. Parker is the first high school basketball player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated since LeBron James and is only the fourth junior to be named the Gatorade Player of the Year since the award’s inception in 1985. The ultra-versatile wing averaged 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals per game for Simeon Career Academy last year where he led the Wolverines to a 33-1 record and third consecutive Class 4A state championship. He also shot over 55% from the field, 42% from the three-point line and 73% from the free-throw line.
However, what makes Parker the once-in-a-lifetime prospect that he’s considered to be is his character and attitude off the court. You hear about all the stories such as him acting as the water boy for Simeon’s junior varsity basketball team or attending church service three days a week at 5:30 in the morning before schools but you don’t get a true sense of him until you talk to him in person. Believe it or not, he’s actually a better kid than advertised and is the ideal person to build a team around. It’s incredible how well he has handled all the attention and pressure he receives and he’s also a kid who truly loves the game. He’s the type of player you have to lock in a closet to keep off the court even when injured.
Just to give you a sense of his off the court obligations, he maintains a 3.63 weighted GPA, ranks 18th in a class of 377 students, serves as President of Student Representatives with the Local School Council, donates his time as a youth basketball instructor, volunteers for Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity), works with the Salvation Army and volunteers for the New Beginnings Church, just to name a few.
When it comes to his recruitment, Parker is considering all of the top schools in the country but told Duke Report at the NBPA Top 100 High School Camp Thursday night that he plans on narrowing down his list to five schools in July or August and hopes to commit by November. It has been speculated that Parker’s decision will come down to Duke and Michigan State and many believe Parker to be a Duke lean. He has already visited a plethora of schools including Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Ohio State and he’ll likely reveal much more about his recruitment after he finishes his AAU season.
Parker is one of my favorite players to watch simply because when he’s clicking, it’s practically impossible to stop him. He’s so smooth in a lot of things he does and can impact the game in a plethora of ways. He’s the type of guy who doesn’t have to dominate the ball to dominate the game and is incredibly versatile. He also has a consistent shot from the mid-range game out to 22 feet and is a good scorer off the dribble. Parker is a good rebounder too and is unselfish. He can create scoring opportunities for his teammates as well and is a capable ball-handler. Parker is extremely intelligent on the basketball court and is a tough match-up. However, he can tighten up his ball-handling, improve his strength and become quicker to improve his perimeter defense against quicker guys.