Jabari Parker, the Chicago high school player of Mormon faith who selected Duke over a plethora of colleges, was named the Morgan Wootten Male Player of the Year during a news conference Monday at the Ronald McDonald House.
“It’s a big-time (honor),” Parker said of the award. “I always dreamed about being amongst the ranks of especially Chicago players, but now I can say nationwide. Hopefully, I can take this and give myself a little bit motivation.”
Parker, whom ESPN ranks as the No. 2 senior in the country, helped guide Simeon Career Academy to its fourth consecutive Illinois state championship in Peoria, Ill., on Saturday. He had 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting and eight rebounds in the Wolverines’ state title victory. He also had 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 15 rebounds in the team’s semifinal win.
Parker averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds during his senior year after battling a foot injury early in the season. He averaged 21.7 points during the team’s seven playoff victories.
The Wootten award is named after the former DeMatha High School (Hyattsville, Md.) coaching legend and given to the McDonald’s All-American who demonstrates outstanding character, exhibits leadership and exemplifies the values of being a student-athlete in the classroom and the community. McDonald’s established the award in Wootten’s name to pay tribute to his achievements as a teacher and coach.
Taya Reimer, a guard/forward and Notre Dame recruit from Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind., won the girls’ Wootten award.
Parker, a 6-foot-9 small forward, was among six finalists for the award. The other finalists included Archbishop Mitty power forward Aaron Gordon (uncommitted), William B. Travis guards Aaron Harrison (Kentucky) and Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Montverde Academy center Dakari Johnson (Kentucky) and Huntington Prep forward Andrew Wiggins (uncommitted). All six players are ranked among the top 11 players in ESPN’s Class of 2013 rankings.
Parker committed to Duke over BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford on Dec. 20.
As a junior, Parker was named the Team USA basketball 2011 Male Athlete of the Year, the Gatorade national player of the year and Illinois’ Mr. Basketball.
Parker will be presented with the Wootten award on April 2 during the McDonald’s All-American Game festivities and will play in the April 3 McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center in Chicago. The game will be televised on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. CST.