By Joe Henricksen
A combination of circumstances and events has led Simeon star Jabari Parker back to the Mac Irvin Fire program. The super sophomore, who had been playing with Ferrari's 17s, was a member of the Fire program last spring and summer and will be joining the loaded 17-and-under team for this weekend's Nike EYBL Tournament in Dallas.
For starters, Parker, a talented 6-8 do-it-all forward, wanted a chance to play against the nation's best. And the NIKE EYBL schedule, which has been a huge hit and success across the country, brings the top national players and club programs together for four different events. Parker will potentially have a chance to go up against the top player in the class, 6-9 Julius Randle out of Prestonwood Christian Academy in Texas.
"He wants competition, the top competition," says Jabari's father, Sonny Parker. "He wants to play against the best. One of Jabari's individual goals is to be the best. And they say Julius Randle is the No. 1 player, so this gives him a chance to play against him and other top players at events like the EYBL and get better as a player."
The opportunity to face the nation's elite was one of the factors that went into Parker's decision to return to the Mac Irvin Fire. In addition, several of Parker's good friends, including Whitney Young's Tommy Hamilton, currently play with the Fire. He spoke with his parents and told them what he wanted.
"This was Jabari's decision," says Sonny. "There was no pressure from anyone. Plus, with his friends there with the Fire, he was looking ahead to next year as well."