ESPNU Terrific 25 SF Jabari Parker has already done something special at Simeon High School in Chicago that former first overall NBA pick Derrick Rose didn't even do. Parker was the first to start the season on Simeon's varsity team as a freshman, and he became the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 10 points, five rebounds and four assists per game.
"It felt special and I was honored and thankful that coach [Robert Smith] put me in that position," said Parker, who compares his game to Celtics SF Paul Pierce.
The No. 7-ranked player in the 2013 class is a versatile combination forward that can score inside and out with range to the arc off the catch or dribble. Parker has a great basketball IQ, matching work ethic and some impressive blood lines.
"Jabari was able to play at that level at an early age because he was mentally and physically ready to compete on that level," said his father Sonny Parker, who was the Golden State Warriors' 17th overall pick in the 1976 NBA Draft.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound sophomore thinks the strengths of his game are his footwork and ability to score. Jabari said he thinks he needs to improve his lateral foot speed to be a better perimeter defender, but many big-time programs are already vying for his services.
"I want a hard-working head coach that will push me," Jabari said.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Illinois coach Bruce Weber, among others, stopped by Simeon High School on the first day of the fall recruiting period and are making Parker a recruiting priority, even though he doesn't graduate until 2013. Others on Parker's early list include Georgetown, Kansas and Washington.
"Getting to know the coaches and their staffs is key," said Sonny, who was a star at Texas A&M before playing seven years in the NBA. "I want Jabari to have a strong relationship with the head coach."
While Jabari is a great player on the court, he is also a great kid off of it. He attends Seminary every morning, maintains a 3.5 GPA and has a great relationship with his family.
"They support and encourage me, and my dad's basketball experience has been great because he knows the game and has been through everything that I am going through as a player," Jabari said. "My brother, Christian, helps me stay focused and grounded."
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to 1990 and was an All-MAC first-teamer in his senior season.