Duke’s Coach K was the difference maker for Simeon’s Jabari Parker
BY MICHAEL O’BRIEN email@example.com December 20, 2012 9:07PM
Jabari Parker announces his signing with Duke during a press conference at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, December 20, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 22, 2013 10:06AM
Jabari Parker said he made his decision to choose Duke about 1 p.m. Thursday. Just a few hours later he told the nation on ESPNU.
“At about 1, everything came together and I was confident with my decision,” Parker said. “You just get the emotion in your heart.’’
Parker kept everyone guessing until the last minute — not an easy thing to do on the Chicago basketball scene. He didn’t mince words when asked why he chose the Blue Devils.
‘‘[Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski] is like the guru of all basketball right now,” Parker said. “It’s the history with Duke. They are always going to be in the tournament. You can’t go wrong. It’s Coach K. That’s one of the best coaches ever.’’
Parker said his decision came down to Duke, Michigan State and Florida. Stanford and BYU were also among his final five.
Krzyzewski’s appeal overcame what Parker called his ‘‘worst campus visit.’’ Krzyzewski impressed the Parker family with his basketball knowledge during two in-home visits.
“The first time Coach K came in, he stood up and showed Jabari where his foot should be on an offensive or a defensive play,” Jabari’s mom, Lola Parker said. ‘‘He showed Jabari where his arms should be. I mean, this guy doesn’t sit down. We kind of laughed about it.
‘‘It was the same thing Tuesday. I moved my coffee table to the side to make sure he had room to get up. And he did the same thing. He stood up and showed Jabari some stuff.’’
Parker said Krzyzewski wasn’t blown away by his commitment.
‘‘They land players like me all the time,’’ Parker said.
Mike Irvin, Parker’s AAU coach, thinks the Duke scholarship offer changed Parker’s entire recruitment.
‘‘It was Duke right away after that, I think,’’ Irvin said. ‘‘Michigan State was second. Tom Izzo made it a very hard decision for him.’’
Krzyzewski has secured commitments from the last five area players he has offered: Providence’s Michael Thompson, Glenbrook North’s Jon Scheyer, Julian’s Sean Dockery, Fenwick’s Corey Maggette and now Parker.
Parker said he isn’t necessarily going to leave Duke and enter the NBA draft after his freshman year. He has made a deal with his mother that he will eventually complete his degree.
‘‘I’ll go off of how I do,’’ Parker said. ‘‘You never know. I may play in college for two or three years. It doesn’t matter to me. I want the college experience, but the most important thing is getting a degree. I want to go to school.”
Unlike a lot of stars in the past, Parker seemed to genuinely run his recruitment.
‘‘He did everything on his own,” his father, Sonny Parker said. ‘‘It was a process he scripted out himself.’’
Parker said his injured foot is getting better every day and talked about a focus he’s intent on having this season. He’s expected to return to action Dec. 27 at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
‘‘Always be an assassin,’’ Parker said. ‘‘Take peoples’ heart out and not be a nice guy. The fourth quarter is not the time to be a nice guy, it’s the time to get a ‘W.’ ’’
Simeon coach Robert Smith has opened his program up to more media access this year than at any time in the past. So far, he’s pleased with the results.
‘‘I told [Parker] he should try to be an actor after all of this,’’ Smith said. ‘‘He does a great job in front of the microphone.’’