O’Brien: Focused, talented Jamal Parks is the South Suburbs’ biggest star

SHARE O’Brien: Focused, talented Jamal Parks is the South Suburbs’ biggest star
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Bloom senior Jamal Parks is the best player in the South Suburbs, right now that really isn’t even up for debate. There’s a good chance he’s also one of the five best players in the state.

That will surprise a lot of people, even a lot of hardcore high school basketball fans. Parks is a full-fledged monster on the court right now. After three frustrating years where he flashed potential but never quite delivered, the total package is finally on display.

“I kinda just woke up and realized this was it, Parks said. “This was my last year of high school and I needed to give it my all, no matter what.”

Parks missed entire chunks of the past few seasons for various reasons. And often when he was playing, it was clear something wasn’t quite clicking. Dante Maddox, a Bloom graduate, took over as head coach this season. He deserves credit for finally figuring out how to get Parks to unleash his full talent.

“The talent has always been there,” Maddox said. “The mind, we’ve been working on since conditioning back in October. We have not always been the best of friends through this process, but we respect each other. If Jamal is willing to do his best he’s one of the best players in the state.”

Parks is averaging 18 points this season. Over the next few games his total points scored will get him into the Bloom record books. His senior year is on pace to be one of the top ten seasons in school history.

“If Jamal ever senses how good he can be it will be scary,” Maddox said. “He’s just scratching the surface of what he can be.”

It was all on display on Friday in Chicago Heights. The 6-4 guard only played about half the game, but he scored 30 points and grabbed five boards. He drained a pair of three pointers and threw down three dunks as the Blazing Trojans coasted to a 76-43 win over Kankakee.

“I try not to get too fancy and just stick to the fundamentals,” said Parks, who shot 12-for-15. “It’s been coming pretty easy to me lately.”

Parks has been in contact with a pair of junior colleges, but according to Maddox there is a still a chance he will be an academic qualifier.

“If Jamal finds a coach that can help him get to that next gear we will see him do special things,” Maddox said.

Anything is possible with Parks’ new attitude. Bloom (16-10) had a rough start to the season but has been one of the area’s hottest teams recently. They beat Thornton in Harvey and knocked off Crete-Monee.

“I was at every practice this season,” Parks said. “Coach has helped me a lot. He’s been on me since freshman year. The last two years didn’t really go very well. This summer I was in the gym doing conditioning and focused from the start.”

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