After three years, it's Parker's turn at Tulsa

Updated: October 23, 2003, 2:11 PM ET
ESPN

TULSA, Okla. -- Tulsa coach John Phillips didn't wait for a leader to emerge on his young basketball team. He told his Golden Hurricane last spring that Jason Parker was their man.

It's easy to see why.

Parker, Tulsa's only senior, led the Golden Hurricane in scoring, assists and steals last year. He has started 34 games and played in 104. That's 104 more games than seven of his teammates.

The point guard already has a degree in management information systems and is working on a second in economics. The son of a Tulsa law professor, Parker has a 3.57 grade point average.

"Jason has proven over the last three years that he'll do anything and everything to make sure Tulsa is successful," Phillips said Wednesday at the team's media day.

The Golden Hurricane lose four key seniors from a team that finished 23-10 last year after winning nine of their last 10 games and losing to Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Only Parker, who averaged 15.4 points per game last season, and Jarius Glenn return as starters. Gone are Kevin Johnson, Dante Swanson, Charlie Davis and Marcus LeDoux and their 98 combined starts and 43.5 points per game.

"I kind of feel like I'm left over from those guys," Parker said. "It's my task to pass the baton, so to speak, and show these new guys what the Tulsa tradition is all about."

There's lots of tradition to show, with two straight NCAA second round appearances, an NIT championship in 2001 and the NCAA regional finals in 2000.

There are also lots of folks to show it to. The Golden Hurricane have seven newcomers, including two junior college transfers and five freshmen.

"He's had the most experience out here, games played and in the Tournament," sophomore forward Anthony Price said. "If he feels like we need to work on something, we have no choice but to listen to him."

Parker leads by demonstration, taking care of the little things that don't bring as much notoriety but lead to victories. He doesn't turn the ball over (fourth in the Western Athletic Conference last year in assists to turnovers ratio, 1.7), and he makes his free throws (84.2 percent).

But he's also not afraid to speak up. Last year's seniors were a soft-spoken crew, sometimes to the detriment of team chemistry.

"He's always telling somebody to push, that they're not going hard enough," sophomore guard Seneca Collins said. "He's always going 100 percent all the time. If you follow him, you can't be going wrong."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index