November 19, 2012

The Latest: Jabari Parker changes up visit dates

By Brian Hedger
Spartanmag.com correspondent

Jabari Parker has decided to take a little break from his original slate of official campus visits, which means his ultimate decision won't come until December.

Parker, the No.2-ranked player in the Rivals 150 for the Class of 2013, originally planned to knock out all five visits in a row and be done with them around the end of the Nov. 14 to Nov.21 early signing period.

Now, according to his father, Sonny Parker, the last two visits won't be made until after the Thanksgiving holiday - in early December. The Parkers will first pay a visit to BYU and then head out to Stanford
for the final official campus trip.

The family has already made official visits to Parker's other three
finalists: Michigan State, Duke and Florida.

"Taking five visits in a row … that's a bit much," said Sonny Parker,
a former NBA player who's handling media contact for his son.
"Whenever he decides, he'll decide. There is really no deadline. We've
had the early-signing period come and go, but whenever he commits
he'll just sign in April."

The most recent trip the Parkers took was to Florida on the weekend of
Nov. 2 through Nov.4 - which gave them a chance to soak in some
sunshine as the weather in the Midwest got colder. It also gave them
an up-close look at the Florida athletic program and just how much the
Gators value their programs.

Florida coach Billy Donavon also used the opportunity to highlight his
program's lofty accomplishments, including back-to-back NCAA national
titles and a recent trip to the Elite Eight.

"They're doing well in football, basketball, baseball, track, swimming
… everything," Sonny Parker said. "Billy Donovan is also doing a good
job down there. He's a good coach."

That visit was also Parker's first chance to see the Florida campus.
The star small forward, who plays for Chicago's Simeon Career Academy,
had already unofficially visited the other four finalists in the past
- including two unofficial visits to East Lansing.

The main difference in these visits, Sonny Parker said, is that each
school has a weekend to impress and they're all trying to hit a home
run. The Parkers are playing it close to the vest and haven't said if
any of the three visits they've logged were better or worse than
others.

It's clear, however, that the heat is being turned up by Parker's five
finalists.

"On the unofficial visits, there's only so much they can do or show
you," Sonny Parker said. "On an official visit, they fly you in and
set you up with an itinerary. It's a lot different when they're paying
for everything and putting an itinerary together. They're really
trying to close the deal and they're pulling out everything now."

There is a notion going around, a rumor, that the Duke visit was sort
of a game-changer of sorts in Parker's recruitment. However, Parker's
AAU coach, Mike Irvin of the Mac Irvin Fire, said that would come as a
surprise to him.

"Knowing Jabari, I'd think if one of the visits was a real
'game-changer,' then he'd just commit and get it over with," Irvin
said. "I don't think he'd keep it going if he knew where he really
wanted to go already."

Along those lines, Irvin said the longer the process goes the more
clarification he expects Parker to get - unlike some prospects, who
get more confused the longer they put off making a decision.

"What the visits are doing is just basically helping him decide where
he wants to be, and once he gets to that point, he'll know where that
is," Irvin said. "I think he has a good idea of what schools it's
coming down to, but he hasn't decided anything yet. In some cases,
when a kid takes a lot of visits he doesn't know which was he wants to
go, but Jabari has been consistent in what he's looking for."

Sonny Parker agreed.

"It's more than just basketball too," the elder Parker said. "He's
picked some real good schools and he picked those schools himself.
They are good, quality programs and he'd fit in at any of those
schools."

Recruiting, however, might be the last thing on Parker's mind right
now. A doctor's consultation visit was set up for Monday to re-assess
a broken bone in his foot that's kept Parker off the basketball court
for about four months. Parker's also been using a walking boot and
hopes to get clearance from the doctor to remove it.

It's still unknown when he will be able to join his high school
teammates to get his senior season started, but it's likely that
Parker won't be back playing in games until December or maybe early
January.

"Not being able to play and run up and down the court for 4 months,
the anxiety is starting to show," Sonny Parker said. "We're telling
him, though, 'If you can't play, you can't play. If you come back too
soon and reinjure it, then your senior season is gone.' So, we'll go
through an MRI (Monday) just to see where the bone has healed and go
from there."

As for contact from coaches, Parker is still in touch with coaches
from all of hi finalists - including Michigan State's Tom Izzo, who
texted from Germany during the Spartans' season-opening trip to see
how the prized prospect was doing with his injury and recruitment.

"They can call you and text you now," Sonny Parker said. "They all
call just to check in and everything. They're pretty respectful. They
just want to know how he's doing and how are they doing."

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