Simeon Career Academy
If Jabari Parker’s decision to attend Duke has left you, the Spartan fans with an empty feeling; it shouldn’t. In the most candid press conference I’ve ever covered, Parker explicitly explained why he chose Duke above Michigan State and others.
From the moment I arrived at the famed Simeon High School, I could tell this wasn’t your everyday press conference. Media outlets from around the nation gathered in the gymnasium surrounding two tables and a podium in the middle.
Microphones and tape recorders quickly engulfed the podium leaving little space for the late comers. The table on the right was staged with five hats, representing a narrowed list of possible universities the high school superstar was going to choose from. It was quite simple, five brand new hats representing BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford, in alphabetical order as not to tip off a favorite.
Everything and everyone was analyzed. What color was Jabari’s Dad’s Sonny wearing? What was his coach wearing? Did you read his eyes? Just about every tiny detail possible was looked at from every direction. Nervous energy could be felt as reporters, students, teammates and others waited.
It was the moment millions around the country had waited for, for seemingly four years since Parker arrived on national radars. Standing there, looking anxious, nervous yet confident, and ready for the most talked about high school athlete since Lebron James to finally end the recruiting process and verbally commit.
The crowd was silent as ESPN came out of their final commercial. After a few filler question, Parker reached for a bag and grabbed a blue Duke Blue Devils shirt and let the nation know he was headed to south to Durham, NC.
After a brief applause, Parker announced that he needed to step out and call “Coach K” and the other four coaches to personally let them know of his decision. Most thought the meat of the presser was over, little did we know it had only begun.
After returning from the calls, the media started firing away. The media seasoned athlete handled the questions with class and confidence.
When asked what went into his decision, Parker responded “I put myself as people within the program.” The likes of Jimmer Ferdette, Draymond Green and others. He said he wanted to see how he would be used in each of the programs and which one would give him the best chance to succeed.
He said MSU was the early favorite as some had speculated. He said the Spartans were until he thought about the current teams make up. Parker has a good relationship with Spartan sophomore Brandon Dawson, and he didn’t think it would be right battle him for a spot and playing time.
Was it your campus visits? Did they impact anything? And once again he stated “not really” as Duke was “worst on campus visit I had.” He kept reiterating it came down to the way he was going to be used.
Now, don’t take it any other way, it was out of the utmost respect for Dawson that he said impacted his choice. He said Dawson from nearby Gary, IN was a great player that needed the biggest of stages himself because he earned it.
He said it wasn’t even until about 1:00 pm Thursday afternoon that he made up his mind.
“It just wasn’t the right decision at the time” to choose the other four schools. He said his investment in college felt right because he had the “emotion in your heart.”
Calling Dawson out by name was the ultimate sign of respect. Next year could be one of the most talked about and anticipated match-ups since another former Spartan faced off against Larry Bird in the ’79 National Championship, if they should meet in the NCAA Tournament or the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Who knows if it will ever come to fruition, but the future looks bright for Parker. The Spartans now have no committed players to the 2013 recruiting class after having struck out on Parker and all other previously sought after players.
Izzo indicated at basketball practice on Thursday, before Jabari’s announcement that if Parker didn’t pick Michigan State (He had to speak in generalities and not specifically about Parker) that he would try to pursue at least one player.