Simeon forward Jabari Paker, the Class of 2013 high school basketball star whom Sports Illustrated recently labled the top prep talent since LeBron James, released a list of 10 colleges he was considering over Twitter on Wednesday night, and somewhat surprisingly the list did not include his home state Illinois.
The Chicago native, who is a rarity — not just as a phenomenal player but also because he is an African-American devout Mormon — listed in no particular order BYU, DePaul, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina and Stanford.
The Parker family was disappointed when Illinois fired coach Bruce Weber in the spring, but Sonny Parker, the player’s father, said his son was open to playing for any coach.
“We’ve been pretty consistent in taking everyone’s phone calls,” Sonny Parker told ESPNChicago.com in late March. “In terms of recruitment, we’re open, but it’s getting late in the game. My son has to have a relationship with the coach. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s like getting married. You don’t say, ‘Let’s get married next week.’ “
As a junior, Parker was named the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year, Illinois’ Mr. Basketball and the national Gatorade Player of the Year. As a junior, Parker averaged 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals per a contest in leading Simeon to its third consecutive state title.
He is a lean, versatile player who has shown a humility that his family says is rooted in his commitment to his religion. Parker shuns comparisons to James, saying he hopes to achieve a modicum of what James has done this point in his career.
It is likely, however, that wherever Parker goes to college, it will be a one-year trip, as the lure of the NBA would be there for him.
At the same time, he has to decide when to take his customary missionary trip, which lasts two years, as part of being a devout Mormon. He could bypass the mission, though.
Parker is expected to commit and sign with a school in November.