By Joe Henricksen
Yes, the Hoops Report and many others have stated Simeon's Jabari Parker is the next great one out of the state of Illinois. Parker continues to take his game to another level as the expectations rise for the scintillating sophomore. Just last week at Pontiac the multi-talented Parker again showed another step in his evolution as a basketball star.
For the past two years the Hoops Report has described Parker as a Paul Pierce clone, capable of setting the table for others, posting up on the block, working along the baseline and stepping out and knocking down shots with a feathery touch and with range. With more experience and an added comfort level, Parker is now becoming more assertive. Parker does things on the floor the average fan may not realize or appreciate.
Every few years a player in Illinois starts being written about as the "next one" in a long line of tremendous talents the state has produced. We begin talking and writing about these special players early, sometimes before they even enter high school as those close to the game awaited the arrival of Derrick Rose out of 8th grade. And with the buzz comes a relentless need by others for recruiting information, tips and leads.
That's where the Parker recruitment will be different than many others that have gone through this very same process over the years. For starters, Jabari Parker is grounded and has a tremendous head on his shoulders. And in comparison to many players that are put in the position Parker is in at this early of an age, the handling of his own early success is off the charts. That's a credit to Parker and his upbringing.
This kid just gets it. He's about winning and improving. And he's a teammate first. Aside from being unselfish as a player on the floor, he shows a down-to-earth attitude toward everything related to basketball. On the bench at Pontiac he was the one filling cups of water and getting them for his teammates. He was the one helping teammate Rashawn McElrath stretch out a cramp or tight muscle during a timeout. Despite being the first freshman contributor ever at Simeon a year ago, last year at a frosh/soph game the Hoops Report attended, Parker was cheering on his classmates and again getting them water on the bench.
If the recruitment stories regarding Parker get out of hand, it will not be the fault of those in Parker's inner circle. The leaks, the rumors, the beliefs others put out there will be coming from people outside the Parker contingent of Jabari, his father Sonny, mother and Simeon head coach Rob Smith. They are guarded and have their priorities in order. Even the people they confide in are ones they trust and know won't start a firestorm.
The latest Parker recruiting hoopla is that Duke has suddenly emerged as the leader. Is Duke heavily involved? Certainly. It's expected when you're talking one of the elite players in the entire country, just as Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State, Washington and others are involved with Parker. But the Parkers are content with where Jabari is in the recruiting process, which is just taking it all in at this time and getting to know the programs and coaches on a personal level. So much can change over two years.
Parker will take visits, get on campus and see games of several programs that are on his list of potential destinations. People will surely get in a frenzy each time he makes a move, visits a school or a rumor begins to circulate. But as the Parkers have indicated time and time again, nothing has really changed as far as leaders for Parker other than Duke getting much more in the mix over the past month. As Jabari's father Sonny stated just the other day about Jabari's recruitment, "There aren't any favorites right now. Jabari isn't thinking like that. This will be a marathon."
The concern right now for Jabari Parker is enjoying high school and the basketball experience at Simeon, taking care of school and just being a kid. Unfortunately, too many of us won't allow that to happen.
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