Duke basketball target Jabari Parker to pick school Dec. 20

lkeeley@newsobserver.comDecember 13, 2012 

Parkers Promise Basketball

In this photo taken in Summit, Ill., Friday, March 9, 2012, Simeon Career Academy's Jabari Parker drives to the basket past a Marist High School player during a Illinois state sectional championship game. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


Jabari Parker, the No. 2 prospect in the class of 2013, will make his long-awaited college decision Dec. 20. While his finalists are Stanford, BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Duke, the Spartans and the Blue Devils are believed to be his final two.

Not even his father, former first-round NBA draft pick Sonny Parker, knows which program his son will pick.

"He hasn’t told me where," Sonny Parker told USA Today. "I didn’t ask him. It’s kind of hard to say. He’s liked all the schools we’ve visited. He’s hard to read sometimes. He keeps things to himself, so I don’t put any pressure on him. I think it will probably be between Duke and Michigan State. That’s what I’m thinking."

Parker, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound small forward from Chicago, was ranked the No. 1 prospect in his class by ESPN until Andrew Wiggins reclassified from the class of 2014 to the class of 2013. As a junior, Parker was named the national Gatorade Player of the Year and Illinois’ Mr. Basketball, averaging averaged 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals per game for Simeon Career Academy.

Parker led Team USA to the FIBA Under-17 World Championship in Lithuania last July but fractured his foot in the process. He missed the next five months and returned ahead of schedule to play 11 minutes on Dec. 1 in his high school team’s opening game. His team plays Thursday night in Texas against DeSoto (Texas) High, which features Duke signee Matt Jones. The game will tip at 9:30 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is expected to be there.

Last May, Sports Illustrated wrote a cover story about Parker with the headline, “The Best High School Basketball Player since Lebron James is…Jabari Parker.” But unlike James, Parker will have to spend at least one year in college.

“I’ve been thinking Duke or Michigan State for a long time now,” said Dave Telep, a recruiting analyst for ESPN. “Duke has the advantage of having an awesome resume, and, in the moment right now, is having a tremendous amount of success.

“Michigan State is, for all intensive purposes, the hometown school, the one his family could get to the easiest.”

Parker took his official visit to Duke the weekend of Oct. 27-28 and saw the Blue Devils’ 105-87 exhibition win against Western Washington. The Cameron Crazies were especially vocal chanting his name. Parker, though, has been greeted warmly on all his official visits. At BYU (Parker is Mormon), fans made more than 6,000 T-shirts that read "Chicago to Provo" and also produced a “Gangnam Style” parody video.

When forced to make a prediction, six out of seven ESPN recruiting analysts predicted Parker would choose Duke (Michigan State was the other pick). Telep, though, said he listed Duke as 1a and Michigan State as 1b because he does not know.

“If he stands up and picks either one,” Telep said, “it would not surprise me.”

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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