Jabari Parker, considered the top high school player in the country in many circles, still has not made a college choice, but he did cut down his prospects to five: BYU, Duke, Stanford, Florida and Michigan State.
“He thought about it and looked at the programs. That’s the five he had,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said Friday. “It took him a long time to find. Everyone was really good, but he had to make a decision. He really respected everyone recruiting him and wanted to thank them for their time. He knew he couldn’t make everyone happy.
“He’s just ready to go out and visit the campuses and get a real feel for the players and the campuses. Him, his family and myself will sit down and see what he comes up with. This is Jabari’s decision. We’re just making sure he’s being guided. I tell him to follow his heart.”
Parker, a dynamic scoring forward from Chicago, in July had revealed a list of 10 schools he was considering, which included Georgetown, Kansas, DePaul, Kentucky and North Carolina. Of that list, Georgetown and Kentucky did not make in-home visits. UConn was on his first list but was allowed a home visit.
He now will set up official visits to his final five schools and is expected to commit in November. He’s scheduled to visit Duke on Oct. 27 and Florida on Nov. 2.
Smith understands BYU is the one school that seemed out of the ordinary on Parker’s list. Smith said Parker, who is Mormon, didn’t include BYU out of generosity.
“All five schools are schools he’s really interested in and really thinking about attending,” Smith said. “He’s really thinking about BYU. I know his faith has a lot to do with it. The coaching staff has been great with him. They’ve been a winning program. That’s one of his choices.”
Smith said Parker’s hardest decision was not including DePaul, his home school, on his final list.
“I think that was the hardest one of them all because he talked about coach (Oliver) Purnell and things of that nature,” Smith said. “It was hard for him to call them and let them know. I understand that. That’s his home school. That’s a rough decision.”
Smith also praised Parker and his family for the way they’ve handled the recruiting process.
“People call me all the time and tell me, ‘I know it’s difficult situation, but they’ve handled it well,’ ” Smith said. “His mother and father have been doing a good job.”
As a junior, Parker was named the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year, Illinois’ Mr. Basketball and the national Gatorade Player of the Year. He averaged 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals a game.