By Joe Henricksen

Jabari Parker, Ferrari and the AAU landscape

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By Joe Henricksen

There hasn't been as much jockeying for Simeon sophomore superstar Jabari Parker's services on the summer circuit as people think. That's because Parker and his father, Sonny Parker, had one goal: for Jabari to play for his high school coach, Rob Smith.

Smith, who has led Simeon to national prominence and back-to-back state championships, will be part of the Ferrari program and help coach the 17-and-under team. And that team will be led by Jabari Parker, a consensus top five talent nationally and the premier prospect in the state of Illinois.

"When it comes right down to it, he's going to play with his high school coach," says Sonny Parker. "And that's just the way it's going to be. We have always wanted to keep things in our inner-circle."

Smith has not been a part of the AAU circuit, but he gave it some thought when his star player came to him and asked him if he would consider coaching him in the summer.

"When a kid comes to you and says he doesn't want to play for anyone else, that he really only wants to play for one coach before he goes to college, you have to listen," said Smith.

Even with Parker's urging, Smith was only willing to coach club basketball if it was done a certain way.

"There was no way I was going to be a part of something that is up for grabs and without any structure," says Smith. "I don't want it to be like some of the other [club] programs that are out there. I want it to be first class and done the right way."

While Parker has a full-time club home, a great deal of his playing time will be spent with USA Basketball this summer. Although the U.S. basketball priority will take time away from the club circuit, Parker's presence will surely help enhance the notoriety and attention paid toward his Ferrari teammates by college coaches and scouting services.

The Ferrari 17s, with the addition of Parker and coached by both Mandel Oliver and Smith, look to be a talented group that certainly changes the landscape of the AAU scene in the Chicago area. Parker will join several highly-ranked players in the Class of 2012 on the Ferrari team, including Homewood-Flossmoor's 6-8 Tim Williams, Farragut's 6-7 Rashaun Stimage, St. Rita's 6-7 A.J. Avery and Orr guard C.J. Jones, who has committed to Ball State.

In addition, the Whitney Young guard tandem of Gabe Snider, a UIC recruit, and Jordan Smith will be on the team, along with Homewood-Flossmoor's 6-7 Antonio Bishop, North Lawndale guard Devonte Jones, Seton Academy's athletic Russell Robinson, Glenbrook North's Cory Dolins, Simeon's Reggie Norris and Antoine Buchanan, who has transferred from Orr to Middleton High School in Middleton.

"We are going in a new direction, with an all new and fresh approach," said Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter, who runs Ferrari.

That new approach and direction includes a name change as Ferrari will now be referred to as All-Illinois Ferrari.

"We want to show this is a collaboration," Slaughter added.

Smith also hopes some of the tug-of-war between club programs and overall politics of AAU basketball in the Chicagoland area can be alleviated.

"Everyone needs to get together, try to get on the same page and do what is best for these kids," said Smith of the top-level AAU programs, particularly the ones affiliated with Nike. "We need one common goal, and that is to do what is best for the players in Chicago."

Smith will have other priorities this spring and summer. His mother, Sharon Smith, is currently in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant. Sharon has been in the hospital since Mar. 15, the day Simeon beat Farragut in the supersectional.

"We are just waiting for a heart donor," said Smith, who says his first priority will be taking care of his mother and being for her at the hospital. "Most of my free time will be spent with my wife, daughter and other family members in being there for my mother.

"At the same time, she knows how much I love basketball and how important it is to me. She wants me to continue coaching and doing what I love. But obviously my main focus right now and going forward is with her."

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Touching! Jabari is truly surrounded by good people and really seems to be a great kid. Coach Smith, your mother is in my prayers.
Thanks for the story Joe!

I love that Jabari Parker and his people continue to actually do what is best for the kid and to keep those they trust around him. And coach Smith, our prayers are with you and your family. I feel like I have gotten to know what you are like as a coach and mentor for kids by reading this very blog over the years.

For all the time and energy these kids are spending playing basketball all year-round trying to earn the holy grail, a college basketball scholarship, I do not want to hear or read that this kid has any trouble qualifying academically. Since we are talking about what is in the kid's best interest, as if only playing basketball can be that.


Any ideas where Milik Yarbrough, Paul White and Okafor are playing - the class of 2014 stars?

Sure sounds like an old case of "Chicago Politics"? Who is getting paid here? I'm just saying.

Ed, that's a nice way of putting it, but prostituting would probably better describe it. I'm certain all of the principles involved; Slaughter, Smith and Sonny Parker, just to name a few, are all making money off of this kid's talent.

Well, Darnell you old Blue-Devil. I have to agree that the shoe company I won't mention is putting down big numbers for this and for all involved. I saw the name of the paddling coach as a member of the staff too.

I never knew you are from the big T. Remember Tom Harold, Dempsey Norman, Philpot and their run? Those were the good times.

Sammy, I do and you're right those were some good times!! Let me ask you something; as a CPS administrator, what is the feeling around the administration when it comes to boys basketball? It is common knowledge that middlemen and street agents are closely involved with the kids and in so many cases influencing them. How does the administration view this condition?

Paul White & Malik Yarbrough are playing AAU with 15U Ferrari. They played this week-end in Milwaukee and won the 15U Platinum Bracket against Ray Allen Select.

Jabari Parker has two parents in his life that supports him other than basketball.I played in the NBA and I am not living through my son with this basketball.Jabari is playing right now because he want to share the exposure he gets with his teamates as well,that is why he want commit to a college until his senior year.Jabari is a team player and he is not for sale.You heard this from the source his dad, Sonny Parker.

First of all I respect Sonny Parker as a player and a person, and for what he stands for in the community. His word is good with me.

To Darnell here's a CPS administrator perspective: Within CPS we know there are those who make a living off of basketball because there is a wealth of talent. CPS has had phenomenal success in basketball. All of the people who prey on kids for personal gain are now grabbing on to kids in 5th grade and placing them onto AAU teams. This takes place outside of the school system. Parents are the only line of defense which can truly control this. All AAU programs are not bad, but this is where some of the exploitation you referred to exists. It is not connected to the educational system though some CPS coaches are suspected of being involved because of AAU affiliations. We don't support it.

CPS showcases a great deal of talent within their 5th through 8th grade basketball program. You wouldn't believe the talent. I saw CPS grammar school kids at 6'6" and 6'7" this year. AAU recruiters are as happy as foxes in the hen house.

The solution to curbing peddling of kids by middle men is parents supporting their kids like the Parkers do which will cut out street agents. Also, schools need to be careful who they hire as a coach. It's all about kids pursuing scholarship opportunities and learning all the life shaping skills sports exposes them to. It's about education and what's best for kids, not the adults.

Messrs Henrickson and Parker: Please understand that what I am speaking to and being critical of is a system that has turned so many our kids into basketball players and nothing else. A system where we show more, exponentially, interest in these kid's athletic development than we do in their academic and social development. A system so entrenched and so pervasive that we as adults justify and defend doing it without any regard for the child's best interest outside of the sport.

So please understand that my intent is never to be unfair to or single out Jabari or any child when I'm speaking. However, I do think we need to have a different narrative on this matter and sometimes names are brought up as illustrations, not to be personal. The saying goes 'don't hate the player; hate the game.' I'm doing just that. I'm hating on a game that is so monetarily profitable and corrupt to the core and the individuals who get the shortest end of the stick are the kids.

With all due respect to you Joe and Sonny, I'm not buying that this kid is not being exploited for monetary gain. A little over a week ago, Simeon just hosted an AAU tourney and just let's just say, conservatively, that there 50 teams,and I've seen the as large as 200 teams. in the tourney at $300 per team. That's $15,000. That's not counting the the gate nor concessions. Where does that money go? Hey Sammy, do you think that money is going into Simeon's operating budget? Please. Do your research and you'll find that the monies generated from these tournaments go to the individuals that sponsor them. And it is simply not rational to me that Robert Smith and Tyrone Slaughter would profit and not Sonny. No disrepect but I simply don't see that happening.

Joe, I don't doubt that the Parkers are a close-knit family and I don't doubt that they love their son but I don't see what that has to with what we're discussing. For example, I don't doubt that Reggie Rose loves his brother and by all accounts, they are very close-knit. And in the beginning, middle and end, Reggie acted as Derrick's street agent. And do you think he didn't profit from Derrick's basketball talent during high school career? You cannot be that naive. As far as the Parker kid goes, what should lead us to believe that his situation is any different? By his father's own account, this kid, who is said to be a very good student, could've went to any school in the city both public and private. Someone could ask the question as to why they chose Simeon? Simeon is one the worst academically performing schools in the state. What does Simeon have to offer this kid that schools like Payton or Brother Rice don't? Some would say maybe a basketball program. Some might also argue that choosing athletics over academics is not necessarily in a kid's best interest. The fact that this kid apparently spends an inordinate amount of time playing basketball all year-round at the expense of normal adolescent social development is not necessarily in the kid's best interest. That is if one wants to see him do anything OTHER than play basketball.

So I submit to both you that if any of the questions that I am posing ring true, and those truths will eventually come to light, then Jabari's situation is prototypical of the system that I am speaking to; where we as adults are giving these kids a raw deal by showing more interest them as athletes than as young people. Simply put, they deserve more from us.

My goodness Darnell!!! Let it go. Get off your soapbox for a moment and realize you are writing about and singling out people that you don't even know.

Darnell, I won't trash the Parkers, but I know where the money goes. Again, all of this action takes place outside of the interscholastic season so give C. Davis credit for having rules and structure in the CPS season. I will say your comments creates a number of questions. Here goes: If sponsors are extending financing for expenses should a family turn it down? Who should accept the support? Should it be the coach, the street agents or the middle men? Should the family take the support? Is it illegal? Is Reggie Rose wrong to accept support during travel time in the AAU season? If he doesn't, who should if anyone? Is it wrong to hold a tournament and make money off the entry fee and admission?

You can create your own answers to these questions because AAU has no rules and restrictions. People can do what they want. That's why they hate CPS and IHSA. Those guys have rules.


"Within CPS we know there are those who make a living off of basketball(TY SLAUGHTER) because there is a wealth of talent....All of the people who prey on kids for personal gain are now grabbing on to kids in 5th grade and placing them onto AAU teams"

"This takes place outside of the school system."

"All AAU programs are not bad, but this is where some of the exploitation you referred to exists."

It is not connected to the educational system though some CPS coaches are suspected of being involved because of AAU affiliations. We don't support it."


Obviously, as long as you win, CPS does support 'IT'. Otherwise, after all the sh@@ slaughter has done, he would have been fired. But, alas, he wins and thats all that matters to CPS.

"AAU recruiters are as happy as foxes in the hen house."
-Like Slaughter and the Irvins, both employed by CPS.

"Also, schools need to be careful who they hire as a coach."
-OR fire coaches when they're caught cheating multiple times.

"It's about education and what's best for kids, not the adults."
-tell that to Dr. Kenner, who does everything to boost her own name, image and arrogance.

Joe, all I will say to you this, if you think this is about me singling out Jabari Parker, you missed it. This is way bigger than that, for me. There are tens of thousands Jabari Parkers in this country chasing the very same dream he is chasing and what I am expressing applies to all of those kids. He just happened to be who the article is about. I don't know the young man nor anyone in his family and I would never attempt tell another man how to raise his children. I did, however, ask a few questions for the sake of showing another perspective. My bottom line on this matter is simply this; the game is the game and the game don't change because people that we like are now playing it.

Sammy, your points are very well taken. I don't know the answers to those questions but I will say this; I think the benefits that these children are receiving is no where near commiserate to what they are sacrificing. If it makes sense to accept benefits for these kids participation in sports, fine accept them. But at the same time take enough interest in the kid to ensure he, at the very least, receives a decent high school education. And I'm not comfortable that they are.

I've spent the better part of the last two decades working in an industry where so many of these young men end up after the dream has ended, Public Housing. Over the years, I've seen and met quite a few of these young men living, in most cases illegally, with relatives in some of the buildings that I've managed. I could say so much more but I'll leave it there.

Hey Anonymous:

I have to admit you and Darnell are correct in your analogies. Don't think CPS and IHSA are not working together to address Slaughter and others. Look for the new rule about multiple offenses and removal of coaches to be in the media soon. My grapevine tells me Kenner is also being addressed about illegal admissions practices soon. They may even have to return the 2009 state championship trophy. Stay tuned, there will be more to come on those two in the near future. Also, do you think the Irvins are not being watched? Here's an inside scoop: The M.P. principal is leaving the school in a few weeks and Irvin could be gone too. That would make many happy. CPS and IHSA knows about shoe companies and AAU affiliations, it's just that they have not caught these guys dirty lately during the high school season and outside of the 25 day contact season. CPS and IHSA knows the same things you know. They do have rules. AAU doesn't and that's the problem.

Why do you think Jereme Richmond and Kyrie Irving are going pro, they made their rep on the AAU circuit, now they are about to get paid!
p.s. Stan Simpson is going to Memphis, he played at U of I
last year, and at a juco this year!
How do you think Doc Rivers son got his rep, AAU ball, in fact they put one of his games on tv against Bradley Beals from St. Louis, another McDonald's All-American, AAU ball has legs, it is real, and it isn't for everyone!

Phil - Jereme Richmond is a poor example, has no chance of being drafted into the NBA. He'll go to Europe and stay there unless he can ever develop a mid-range jumper and learns to hustle.

Randy, I have to agree with you on this one. Richmond should have stayed in school and gotten better. He is not even close to being ready to compete in the NBA. He's probably going to regret the decision to leave so soon.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on March 30, 2011 1:19 PM.

More opportunity and competitive balance? Really? was the previous entry in this blog.

Sharpshooter Nelson heading to Evansville is the next entry in this blog.

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