Opinion: Jabari Parker ain't walking through that door, Blue Demon fans
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
It’s always interesting when the number one high school basketball player in the country adds your school to their top ten college wish list. Chicago native Jabari Parker tweeted last week that DePaul was one of the top ten schools on his radar, along with Stanford, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Kentucky, Kansas, BYU, Florida and Georgetown. But let me tell you, Blue Demon fans -- you shouldn’t get too excited.
I mean, what would joining DePaul do for him that a powerhouse school wouldn’t? Would you not elect to accept an offer to play for Kentucky over DePaul if you had the choice? I know I would.
Let’s say it’s fall 2013 and the Blue Demons have Parker in their starting lineup. Best case scenario, DePaul will be coming off a season finishing just a few wins shy of making the NCAA tournament, so the addition of the Simeon star to their lineup would surely make for an exciting season.
The most enticing aspect of Parker's tweet is the possibility for intense publicity, as well as the large income it would generate for the Big East, which is struggling to maintain its buoyancy in the ever-changing world of the NCAA. Parker's expected to be a one and done player, so DePaul sees him paving the way for other Chicago recruits in an effort to create their own homegrown collegiate powerhouse.
As of right now I would assume most Chicago high school stars want to leave for better programs, because sadly, DePaul and Northwestern are the best the Chicagoland area have to offer in terms of prestige. I expect the luring of Parker to continue long into the fall, as the DePaul athletic department and coaching staff will try to push all the right buttons to coax Parker into signing a letter of intent.
But I know he’s not going to join.
Why? Because he’s a 17-year-old basketball star who wants to be well prepared for the next level. Oliver Purnell's record of preparing elite NBA prospects simply does not stack up to other legendary coaches throughout the rest of the country. The only Purnell-coached player to make it to the NBA was Sharrod Ford at Clemson, yet Ford didn't have nearly as much potential as Parker.
Parker mentioned to ESPN that geography will be important in his decision, but that’s the vaguest answer one can give. He never mentioned if he wanted to be close to home or not. Obviously DePaul is the closest to his Chicago home, but when you look at the reason his father gave for the addition of DePaul, it was because the coaching staff is stable.
This was the reason for U of I’s disqualification from Parker’s list. Parker and his family also have ties with Billy Garrett, the Blue Demons' assistant coach. His son, Billy Garrett, Jr., is another star high school player who will graduate the same year as Parker. Garrett, Jr.. is currently the only 2013 commit for DePaul that year.
This will add a curious twist to the Jabari Parker story, but when you look at the list of teams, it's clear the Blue Demons are the head scratcher. The point that makes those schools better for Parker is the already established publicity. All of the schools on this list excluding DePaul attract five-star recruits and have strong names in the college basketball world. These teams can field a good team around Parker and have a chance to win big with him. Going to DePaul would do more for Chicago and the university than it would for the player.
Parker is considered by ESPN’s Scott Powers to be the best high school basketball player since LeBron James. He would have to find it deep in his heart to know that DePaul is where he wants to be. The Blue Demons would already be prepared for the Jabari Parker Show as soon as he steps on campus, but as stated earlier, it’s a long shot.
There have been a number of high school All-Americans who have turned down major programs to play for their hometown. Jason Kidd is just the first example to come to mind. Kidd, who hailed from the San Francisco-Bay area turned down programs like Duke to play for UC Berkeley. This was a decision that shocked the basketball world, but it couldn’t have come at a better time, because in Kidd’s two years the program flourished.
I can only hope that in the event Parker does sign with DePaul, the program can flourish too. As a spring 2013 graduate, it would make me proud as an alumnus to finally root for a winning men’s team, but I would understand if he finds his place elsewhere.