All over the country on Wednesday, high school basketball players eagerly signed on the dotted line, completing their National Letters of Intent and securing college scholarships.
At Simeon, four of Jabari Parker’s teammates took part. Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate signed with Illinois, Kendall Pollard signed with Dayton and Quron Davis signed with Chicago State.
Parker hasn’t even decided on a college yet, and after talking with him it sounds like he may not have signed Wednesday even if he had his mind made up. He’s planning on possibly making a college decision in December or January, and then signing during the late period in April.
It’s a very smart move. A player as in demand as Parker is holding all the cards. College coaches switch jobs at the drop of a hat. NCAA sanctions can pop up out of anywhere.
There’s absolutely no upside to Parker signing now and possibly getting stuck in a less than ideal situation.
“Exactly,” said Parker. “I’ve already established myself. I’m just going to take my time. I’ll probably take another month to make my decision, then I will know what school I’m going to and not have to worry about anything during the season.”
The college recruitment process is full of empty promises, and nearly all of the leverage sits with the colleges. Most players have to take what they can get. Parker is at a different level, and he knows that.
“There is always some chance where something pops up at the last minute that could change my decision,” Parker said. “That’s why I’m not too focused on making the early signing period.”
Early commitments a dying breed
While most players are still signing in the fall of their senior years, almost all of the area’s elite level talents are waiting until the summer before their senior years to orally commit to a school. That’s a big departure from the past few classes, where players like Cully Payne, Jereme Richmond and Ryan Boatright were committing to colleges as eighth graders or high school freshman.
For the past few years, most high-major players made decisions before their junior seasons. That isn’t the case anymore. None of the area’s high-major juniors, sophomores or freshman has made their college choice yet. Waiting seems to be en vogue.
The big question
Which school will Jabari Parker choose?
Parker’s list is down to five schools: Florida, BYU, Stanford, Duke and Michigan State. He’s visited all of them at least twice, except for BYU and Stanford, and he plans to make a second trip to both those schools sometime this winter.
Parker and his family have been better at keeping a lid on rumors and unnamed sources than any major Chicago recruit in recent memory. It’s extremely difficult to get a handle on which way he’s leaning.
A source close to the Parkers believes that the family was blown away by the trip to Duke a month ago—the Blue Devils pulled out all the stops and knocked their socks off. Yes, you always hear that recruiting trips go well. That’s why they are very rarely worth writing about. But this was the first time something that substantial had emerged from a credible source.
Take that however you would like, recruiting is always fluid, and Parker has said numerous times this week that he hasn’t made his decision and things could change even after he makes it.
Illinois doesn’t care
While fans in Michigan, Utah and North Carolina are buzzing about Parker’s recruitment on a daily basis, the overall mood in Chicago is pretty calm. Jon Scheyer’s recruitment was a three-ring circus, without a doubt the biggest in the Chicago area in the past decade. Derrick Rose’s was huge, as was Julian Wright’s.
There is a simple reason why Parker’s recruitment isn’t as big locally: there appears to be very little chance he’s staying home. Illinois and DePaul are no longer in the picture, and that keeps things from reaching a fever pitch.
Remember Rose’s surprise visit to Champaign for Midnight Madness? That stunt had the state dreaming of Rose in orange and blue. Parker’s recruitment hasn’t had a single moment of real intrigue or drama. It has closely resembled his on-court game: smart, composed, controlled and efficient.