Sonny Parker either cheering or calling a play. Hard to tell which.
Recently, ESPN.com had a chance to speak with top 2013 recruit Jabari Parker’s father, Sonny, about his son’s recruitment. Par for the course (I’m still in a golf mood), Mr. Parker responded obtusely regarding specifics on Jabari’s future. But he did have plenty to say about Jabari’s present.
Specifically, Sonny discussed the media attention his son has garnered over the last few months. With the 2012 class mostly graduated, signed, and in the books, recruiting services have refocused on the 2013 class. ESPN reworked the class from the Super 60 to the Top 100, which is reserved for only the seniors. Even Sports Illustrated, as you may recall, has zeroed in on the class, and Jabari in particular. So how does a rising high school senior deal with the scrutiny? Well, essentially by being grounded from sports media. Sounds harsh, and that may be putting too fine a point on it, but it’s probably a wise decision. Mr. Parker explains:
Basketball never stops, so we’re getting ready to shut it down for him. He just wants to continue to be a kid, watch cartoons, hang out with friends and everything.
I think Jabari is the first player who has experienced this social media stuff. LeBron and Kobe never experienced that. Jabari can’t go to the bathroom without being on Twitter. It’s the first time a player of his caliber you know he plays a game, gets out of the shower and he’s on YouTube.
It’s overwhelming. It could be a distraction sometimes because he still has to stay in the same routine. I think the distractions sometimes can get overwhelming.
He doesn’t like a lot of attention. He’s managing. With all the interviews, they want to do a book, they want to do a movie, they want to do a documentary, those things. He says, ‘Dad, why do they have to follow me to school and church and home and everything?’ He’s trying to get used to that.
He wants to be back in the gym. He wants to get back in the gym and do his workouts. He doesn’t have a lot to prove. Of course, he’s the biggest target. He’s the hunted.
It’s always good to see a parent involved in their son’s recruitment, and a sequestration of this kind is probably healthy. We’ll still be able to see highlights of games and all of that goodness, but there may not be as many interviews or articles. I’ve always thought the nature of following recruiting was very strange: paying so much attention to high schoolers in any other context would be bizarre. But, we love our college sports, so we’re always ready to welcome the next Cat. I think most fans/writers toe the line well, and manage to stay respectful, but there are a few who go over the top. Jabari’s decision, via his father, is probably to protect him from those types.
So enjoy watching Parker’s game highlights and hoops mixtapes. There will be plenty of those. Just don’t expect a book about his college decision.
As for the destination from that inevitable decision?
He’s going to narrow it down. He’s going to take his visits and he’s going to make his decision.
He’s mentioned Illinois. … It’s his home state.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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