After winning the National Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior, leading Simeon High School to a third consecutive Illinois state title and being named by Sports Illustrated as the best high school basketball player since LeBron James, 6’8″ Jabari Parker embarked on the last leg of the EYBL in Hayward, California, a town his father, Sonny Parker, lived in for two years while he was a member of the Golden State Warriors. This was part of the last go round on the AAU circuit for arguably the most scrutinized high school basketball player of the burgeoning social media age.
As part of the Nike EYBL for the Mac Irvin Fire, Jabari played in thirteen games this year, including six on the most recent leg, highlighted by a matchup against the Texas Titans, featuring 6’9″ forward Julius Randle. Parker, who has been more assertive and vocal on his final summer campaign, has led the Fire in both points and rebounds, averaging over fourteen points and seven rebounds, while always focusing on team basketball, a staple of his beloved Boston Celtics and a rarity in AAU basketball. After finishing with a 14-6 record in the Nike EYBL, the Chicago-based AAU team qualified to compete in next month’s Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina.
This coming week, Jabari is scheduled to participate in the NBPA Top 100 Camp, which is now run by John Lucas, a former Golden State Warrior teammate of Sonny Parker for three seasons. The rising senior wing is the marquee player scheduled to attend, but will limit media access, so as to regain a semblance of normalcy to his teenage life. Following the event, the ambitious Parker will head to Colorado Springs, Colorado to try out formally for the USA Basketball 17U team, which hopes to earn a gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Championship For Men in Kaunas, Lithuania this July. Last summer, Jabari led the United States to a gold medal at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Mexico, averaging over fifteen points and six rebounds in twenty-one minutes per international contest. For his efforts, USA Basketball named Jabari Parker the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 2011.
Following a hard fought recent game, the always gracious Jabari “J.P.” Parker spoke with me about the upcoming USA Basketball role, his recent Sports Illustrated profile, the sanctuary of playing basketball in a church gym, and dealing with the exhausting scrutiny.
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