The NBAPA Top 100 High School Camp finished up this past weekend and BDN will soon take a look back at what we saw from both a Duke and national perspective. But before we go there, let’s hear what veteran recruiting analyst Van Coleman had to say about the camp as he shares a recap with BDN Premium members [private]-
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.
What did you think of the Sports Illustrated article? Did you think it was a fair portrayal?
Yeah, I thought it was fair. I thought he did a fair job.
I thought it conveyed the Jabari Parker that I’ve encountered. How long did he work on it?
He worked on it for about three months, but mostly during the playoffs. He tried to follow me around Chicago a little bit.
Did you know that you were going to be the cover?
Oh, no, I didn’t.
Are you happy with the way it came out?
I was for like the first four or five days, but then it just became too much.
Yeah, it became, like, well, you’re not LeBron.
That’s what I wondered or thought might happen. I noticed some people in the stands making idiotic comments.
Yeah, I mean, I never asked for it.
Did they mention that they were going to compare you to LeBron?
No, they didn’t. It’s just a lot to try to live up to. I mean they didn’t just compare to an NBA player. They compared to the MVP of the whole league.
Sure, it’s impossible to live up to those expectations.
Yeah, I mean I’ve just got to play my game and help my team. Just focus on that.
How do you feel about your Mac Irvin team right now? You’ve added a point guard from California (Marcus Lovett, Jr.). Jahlil (Okafor) has stepped up. Do you feel good about your team’s chances heading into the Peach Jam in July?
Yeah, I think that we’re starting to gel. We’re trying to work Marcus in. The team is starting to come together and I think we have a good shot at the Peach Jam.
You and Jahlil mentioned the last time that you wanted to win the Peach Jam in memory of Mac Irvin.
Yes, definitely. That’s our goal.
You’ve also got, most importantly, the USA team trials coming up. I’ve seen Coach Showalter at several events. Are you guaranteed a position this year?
Oh, no, I’ve got to make the team. I’m excited about the opportunity and the chance to play for the team and represent the country. It’s something much bigger than all of us. A tremendous opportunity
Have they talked to you about what roles or responsibilities that you might play or have on this team?
Well, I think it’ll be pretty much the same role as the last time. I’ve got to be a leader and a scorer and help with our defense and rebounding on the wings. I’ll do whatever the coaches ask.
Who are the toughest guys for you to score on? Is it the smaller, but more athletic guys or the taller guys?
That’s tough. I think it depends, but I guess the smaller guys. The taller guys try to block my shot, but I can usually dribble right past them. It’s tougher with the small guys. I can shoot over them, but it’s also harder to dribble around them. I’m not sure. Sometimes, the tall guys can be tough too.
In terms of recruiting, do you have any visits lined up? Has there been any major change in your recruitment?
No, it’s pretty much the same. I’m planning on taking my official visits in the fall and deciding during the early period. I’m going to try to cut down on my list this summer, but, no, there’s no major changes. Same thing pretty much
Do you think or intend on playing with other great players in college? Does it matter to you who the program that you ultimately select is will be bringing in or already has on the roster?
Yeah, I definitely plan on playing with other great players. I’m just not sure which ones. I’m going to be thinking about which players that I’d like to go to college with over the summer. Hopefully, we’ll be able to go to college together next year.
As you know, there are some guys that would prefer to showcase themselves for a year. For whatever reason, some would prefer not to share the spotlight.
Yeah, but I’d like to play with other great teammates and try to win a Championship. That’s the goal. I’m not worried about sharing the spotlight.
I know you’ve already played with some talented guys on the USA Basketball team, Simeon, and Mac Irvin, but I thought I should formally ask you, since some have brought it up or wondered.
One intriguing image or thing that I got out of that article was the image of you playing and learning in a church gym with not exactly perfect rims and a painting of Jesus monitoring you on the walls.
Yeah, we would always play there because my area of Chicago wasn’t always great and so it was and is a safe place to go and learn and practice basketball.
It was frankly something that I could relate to. When I was about your age or maybe a little younger, my priest in New York gave me the keys to the gym to just shoot and practice. It also had one bent rim, but it was kind of a sanctuary from some of the violence or problems at that time.
Yeah, sure, it’s just great to have a place to go and get away from some of the problems and just work. It’s been great for me and my family.
Are you actually from the Hyde Park section of Chicago or do you just go over there?
No, I’m actually from the South Shore. We just go over there.
Do you find it any different or even easier not playing in front of the college coaches?
I don’t find much of a difference because I’ve gotten pretty used to them by now. It really doesn’t phase me too much. I just try to concentrate on the game and not worry about anything else.
Some guys prefer it playing in front of friends and family, while others prefer no distractions. How do you find it, playing in front of your parents and a lot of your mother’s family?
It’s good. I’m glad that my dad could watch me play and give me advice, if I need it. It’s great to be able to feel the love and support of my cousins too. They’re all very supportive and I appreciate them coming out.
It was amazing to see them all with the t-shirts with your Sports Illustrated picture on them. You’ve had a lot of family support.
This area must also bring back a lot of good memories of the NBA for your dad.
Yeah, I think he just wishes that he had more time to look around, but he loved it.
I’m not sure if this is correctly attributed to you, but I thought that I saw somewhere that you said the attention “sucks.” Is that correct? Is that how you feel about it?
Well, it can be a lot or too much. There’s just a lot of attention and it can be too much. Sometimes, I’d just like to be a kid, you know.
I’m sorry about this. Believe me, the last thing that I want to be is a problem for you.
Oh, no, I mean you’re no problem, but I mean, sometimes, other people can be and it sometimes feels like it never stops. It’s just a lot to take in and live up to. It can get frustrating.
Has going through this final season of AAU basketball and camps been at all emotional for you?
Yeah, it’s begun to hit me. I’ve been doing this since, well, for a long time. I find myself, at times, going, you know, this is the last time that you’ll be doing this event or going here. It feels kind of weird to think sometimes that it’ll all be over pretty soon. I’m going to miss some of these guys.
Thanks a lot, Jabari, for your time and, once again, I hope I wasn’t a problem.
(laughs) Oh, sure, don’t worry. You’ve never been a problem.
I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the benefits of joining BDN Premium, our extended subscription service, and urge you to join us. Due to our dedication to full coverage and to our unparalleled access, many stories that are just now going public have been known by our members for some time already.
What do we mean by “full coverage?” Well, I’m currently in Charlottesville, Virginia, covering the annual NBAPA Top 100 Camp, where I am concentrating on Duke prospects. You can see our interviews, directly from Charlottesville, on the main page. BDN was present at the Nike EYBL in Oakland recently where my co-analyst, Andrew Slater, was on top of every story and back story, as usual. In addition to being a walking, talking encyclopedia of AAU basketball, Slater’s in-depth interviewing is really unique in this industry. You simply won’t get the kind of information that he provides anywhere else. Ask any BDN member to confirm what I’m telling you here — trust me, they will. Thanks to Andrew, we were all over EYBL. BDN was also present at the Pangos All American Camp the week after EYBL, making it three straight weeks of onsite, in-person live coverage of key Duke prospects — EYBL, Pangos, and now the NBAPA Top 100 here in Virginia. This is illustrative of our philosophy here at DBN: we feel you have to be there to truly cover Duke athletics in any kind of comprehensive way, so that’s what we do. That’s how we get the one-of-a-kind interviews we get before and after the games, and on the recruiting trail. We’re there, and through us, you will be too.
While we are so fortunate to have a full staff of recruiting analysts and writers, of particular note with regard to football recruiting is Patrick Cacchio, who is our primary guy in that space. His ability to not only obtain interviews with Duke prospects, but get them to open up for the benefit of our members, is unmatched. He’s been doing it for a long time, and he’s not stopping now. Our BDN Premium Football section is becoming the place to be for Duke football fans, as we are dedicated to covering not only recruiting, but the Duke football program from a 360 degree perspective. This means everything from recruiting to weekly press conferences to sitting down with the coaches to game day coverage, and much more.
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One of the more impressive players during the morning session of the NBAPA Top 100 Camp was Anthony “Cat” Barber, who tallied 16 points in his opener. The consensus among talent evaluators is that he has been improving his already lofty stock. Here is an interview with the budding star: [private]
Make no mistake about it: Jabari Parker is the real deal, and that’s why he’s ranked as the top player in the nation. Our premium members can check out Andrew Slater’s one-on-one interview with Jabari, and now we have followed that up with this video shot just moments ago. Parker has been swarmed by the media attending the NBAPA Top 100 High School Camp, but BDN Premium will take you behind the scenes all weekend long for the latest on Parker and other Duke [private] targets.
There are certain moments in life where, based upon your actions, your life changes. For 6’9″ Marcus Lee of Antioch, California, his performances with his California Supreme team at the EYBL in Minnesota potentially changed the course of his life. After the event, scholarship offers flooded in from programs across the country. His brother, Bryan, a former basketball standout at Grand Canyon University, and a recruiter for Google, has been the primary filter for Marcus’s calls. One of the schools that immediately contacted Marcus following the EYBL event was Duke University.
Seven weeks later, Marcus is now scheduled to travel to Charlottesville, Virginia to participate in the NBPA Top 100 Camp. As the sixth-leading shot-blocker in the EYBL, Lee was instrumental in forging California Supreme’s 16-4 record, which helped the team qualify for next month’s Peach Jam in South Carolina.
Recently, I spoke with Marcus about, among other things, that life-changing weekend in Minnesota, about speaking with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, as well as Bryan’s reaction to the newfound interest in his younger brother.
What was your initial reaction when offers started coming in from all around the country?
I was pretty surprised. I thought I was just sort of settling in and then…
Did it change your life, to a degree?
Yeah, it did. Yeah, it changed everything. It changed it to the point where after school I was having a lot of phone calls coming in and I just don’t have any more free time. (laughs)
Do you like it?
Yeah, I love it! I mean I sometimes get headaches, but it’s all worth it. It’s been great.
What are you trying to gain or learn from your visits?
How they do stuff around each campus..I really want to talk to people. I feel that I’ve got a lot of questions for people.
What does your brother think about all of this fuss? I remember that he was, in some ways, your guiding light.
Yeah, yeah, he’s just trying to keep everything away from me… so far.
Does he handle everything, for the most part?
Yeah, he handles pretty much everything. He tries to be supportive.
What was it like in the match-up with Jahlil Okafor? He’s another recruit that I’ve spoken to a lot.
I thought it was great. He’s really one of the toughest kids I’ve gone against. He’s a really big kid, very fundamentally sound. It was a lot of fun.
One of the schools that has shown interest in you so far is UCLA. What do you know about them?
I want to find out more about them. I know a little bit about them because they’re roughly in my area. I think I’d like to take a look around. I mean, I’ve always had a good relationship with them.
When they offered you, was it pretty exciting?
My brother called me and he said that they’re going to call you to probably offer you and then I got a call and it was just amazing.
You’re sort of known for your shot-blocking. Out of curiosity, who are the hardest guys for you to try to defend?
Probably one of the bigger or, like, stronger types. Like guarding all these top big men in the EYBL is like, man, I mean, they get the ball, and I get pounded. I try to block their shots and defend them, but a lot of them are tough.
Can you talk a little bit about San Diego State? (other reporter)
San Diego State is always in my ear. They’re always really, like, a nice program. I just would like to learn more about them, but they’re really nice though.
Do you think it would be hard to leave the West Coast?
I’m not sure. I don’t think so.
Have you thought about starting to pare it down?
I think about it a little bit, but I really feel that I should just stay open right now. So far, I have no idea what I’d like to narrow it down to..maybe a little later I will.
How do you feel you and your team are playing right now? Do you feel, in some ways, that this is, for lack of a better phrase, the best Marcus Lee that we have seen?
Yeah, this is probably the best Marcus. (laughs)
Sorry to force you into the third person. I didn’t want you to become a diva wide receiver or a boxer just yet..
(laughs) Yeah, in terms of the team, I think we try to separate ourselves by being a very family-like setting. Other teams, they seem to want to compete against themselves and other teams. We try to help each other out..that’s our whole goal in this.
Yeah, yeah. I’m sure you noticed that.
How is it playing in front of your family? Is it a different dynamic?
It’s probably the hardest thing.
Oh, really, it’s actually harder?
Oh, yeah, much, much harder. I feel like I have to meet much higher expectations when they’re here.
I remember that you mentioned during a prior interview with me that your brother was your role model in basketball, not necessarily a current pro or college basketball player. I know that he was a Division II All-American.
Yeah, when he came into college, he was more of a scorer. He tried to focus on that.
Was he generally a different type of player than you?
Yeah, he’s exactly the same. He would always try to do the little things to help the team win, things that might not show up in a box score. He got a lot of joy out of basketball.
Well, you seem to get a lot of joy out of playing basketball and life. What would you say is your favorite part about playing basketball? It seems like you like to run and block shots.
Yeah, I love to block shots. They get so happy thinking that they’re going to lay it in and I come by and just… swat! I just love doing the little things. I love winning and just being part of a team.
When I was talking to Jahlil, he was amazed at your speed. He had never seen you play before. He was amazed at your speed going up and down the court for a fellow big guy. That was his take on you. What was it like when you received the Duke offer? What was your reaction?
Well, my brother put Coach K’s number in my phone. I wasn’t sure if it was a joke, but then I got out of school and I was going through my phone and I saw Coach K’s number coming up and I was, like, whoa, and then I was just sitting there and there was just a voicemail from Coach K and I, like, had to call him right back.
What did he say when you finally spoke to him?
Oh, he was extremely excited. He had a whole bunch of enthusiasm in his voice.
For those in the audience who haven’t gone through that experience, what did he say?
He was just, like, well, he told me that I was, like, an amazing player. He was just, like, he wanted to, like, work me out and get me better.
What did he appreciate about you most?
He liked that I was so happy out there on the court and my energy.
They like high energy guys.
Yeah, I think that’s what they liked about me most.