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Jabari Parker and the Eventful Summer

Jabari Parker BDN/Andrew Slater Photo

Since last we profiled Chicago’s Jabari Parker, he has led the United States to a Gold Medal at the FIBA Americas 16U Championship in Mexico, where the 6’8″ wing was named the MVP of the tournament. Over the past month, Parker stood out against the nation’s best at the LeBron James Skills Academy and helped take his relatively young Mac Irvin AAU squad deep into several tournaments including the Peach Jam, Fab 48, and, most recently, into the finals at the Desert Duel.

Recently, Jabari spoke with us about a variety of issues, including his USA Basketball experience, his recent profile in Sports Illustrated, and a scouting report on some of his recent teammates, who also have received recruiting interest from Duke.

What schools are you considering?
Kansas, Washington, Duke, Illinois, and Michigan State.

What’s going to influence your decision when you choose a school?
The best program where I can fit in, a program where I can develop as an individual, both in basketball and character-wise.

[private]
(Other site) Chicago basketball, is that the best basketball in the country or what?
I would say in the country because, as a public school, we don’t have the ability to recruit as the other schools do, so I always consider us one of the best high school programs in the country.

What did you learn about yourself at the academies?
I learned that these guys are just as good as me, so I have to work hard, I have to make myself stand out through hard work.

What do you feel you need to work on?
Not just being an individual, but being able to have your teammates play around you and it’s not about one person…Just getting to loose balls and playing better defense, too, cause you know I can lag on that. And getting my jump shot improved, too.

What’s it like playing in front of college coaches?
Not a lot of pressure, but, you know, I’m kind of used to it, but it’s good because you know…
Do you find it makes you play or act differently? Do you find it motivates, excites, or even makes you a little nervous?
It makes me kind of motivated because I can show them what I’m not good at and show what I’ve improved on and lacking in skills.

Do you feel you’ve improved as a shooter over the past few months?
I’ve gotten better, but it needs some work. You know, I’m just getting in the gym and getting shots up. I’m not thinking about it too much, but just..
Getting comfortable with your range?
Yeah.

What was the USA Basketball experience like?
It was very good. It was very aggressive. It’s kind of different from the States because they called a whole lot of ticky-tack fouls. In the national game, they let you be more physical where hand-checking is allowed.

How long does it take you to get used to the rules, etc.?
Well, it took me about a week. We practiced in Colorado Springs, so they had us learn the rules.

What about winning the MVP? It must have been exciting.
It was good. I was actually surprised because you know Aaron?
Yeah, Aaron Gordon..
He played well and just my teammates..they were just as good as me, so when I got it, I felt honored.

What were the highlights of the trip? The highlight was obviously winning the gold medal, but other than that, I meant…
Yeah, but off the court, we went to Chichen Itza. It was one of the Aztec pyramids or something like that we got to see. It was like another wonder of the world. We got to see that up close.

Oh, that must’ve been a great experience. Forgive me, but what’s the latest in your recruitment?
Missouri just offered me, Tennessee just offered me, and UConn, too.

Who’s been after you hardest since that June 15th deadline?
Illinois and DePaul. DePaul has sent me a lot of things. They kind of get under you because they’re the local school.

Have you enjoyed playing with Jahlil Okafor? He said he looked up to you. What’s your relationship like with him?
Oh, that’s like a little brother to me. Jahlil’s very good. He’s a really big person down-low that you can throw the ball down to. He’s looking to be like me- one of the top players in his class. He’s very dominant.

He had mentioned how you had slimmed down on your body and how he was going to try to do the same.
Yeah, with me and him, it’s all about our bodies are different. Growing up, it’s about eating the right food. You can’t get away with taking a lot of days off.

Can you give the audience a scouting report on Theo Pinson?
Oh, Theo’s very good. You know, without the ball, he can run the lanes very well. He’s very athletic. He’s just good for his age. He can do so much that other kids can’t do at his age.
He’s a very natural player.
Yeah, he’s very natural.

What was the experience at LeBron like?
It went well. We did a lot of skill development, getting coaching from all different levels- from the NBA down to high school. You know, it just brings different views.

What sort of things did you learn?
Footwork, just different footwork… and skills as far as reverse pivots and face-up game.

Speaking about those five or six schools that you mentioned before, can you mention something about each of them?
Well, they each have great coaches, they have a long history, they’ve been able to win, you can also develop as a person too with them and you can trust them. I just like that the coaches there are all good.  I think I can fit into their systems well.

What makes you think that you can fit into their systems?
Because it’s versatile. I’ve been scouting throughout the players they had and I’m similar to some of those players..the ones that are able to post inside and out and play the small forward position.

How likely is it that your schools are likely to change from here on out?
It’s able to change, there are a lot of schools trying to come in, but you know, things can change, I guess. I just like those schools.

I guess I was just curious, but do you have a friendly rivalry with Julius Randle?
Well, you know, he’s a very good player. You know, me and him are a rival on the courts, but me and him get along very well and we talk. We share words and we talk about schools. I just like being around him.
I know you guys are often associated on a national level.
Yeah, yeah.

In terms of visits, have you taken any recently? Do you have any upcoming?
I don’t have any visits planned because, you know, I’ll be busy. In August, I really don’t know.

Who are some coaches that you’ve enjoyed talking to?
It was surprising to see Jim Calhoun, you know he just won the National Championship..and his interest in me being very high. He’s always won national championships and he plays in the Big East.

Have you spoken with Durant and what advice did he give you?
I met Durant in Chicago and…
I remember you really looked up to him, I remember that he was one of your favorite players. I’m glad that you had the opportunity to meet him.
Yeah, he’s a very good guy. He was always involved with us. He also worked with us individually as well. He also told us that we need to work hard and told me not to let my talent be wasted by not working hard.

Did you get to play against him at all?
Yeah, I got to play against him.
How did you do?
I did okay. He didn’t really play to his full effort, but…

How far along do you feel you are in terms of your recruitment?
I think it’s getting there. I think it’ll be before my senior year. I’ll be able to decide one day. Only time will tell.

(Kentucky site reporter) You mentioned Kentucky. You’ve gotten a little interest from Kentucky. Have they called you since June 15th.
Yeah, they called my parents and they didn’t really give me any insight into what was said. They just said that they were very interested in me.

(Kentucky site reporter) Do you feel like you have an offer from them?
Not really, because I think that they’re interested in other kids from the 2012 class. But Coach Orlando, he contacts my mom sometimes.
(Kentucky site reporter) What would be your interest level if they did come through with an offer?
It would be so-so.

Have you visited all five of them?
I have visited all but Kansas. I haven’t visited Kansas yet. I’ve been away and at the camps. I haven’t visited them yet.

Is that something you want to do or thought about?
Yeah.

Since we’re getting near the end of the season, how do you feel you and your team are playing right now?
I think we’re playing well, you know. We’re playing well as a team. This spring, you remember we were struggling a little bit, when we were trying to get used to each other and our surroundings. Right now, we’re starting every game strong and everybody is playing well with each other.

What is the importance for you and your teammates of going out with a bang…ending the summer on a high note?
I’ve been playing pretty well this summer. You know getting a lot of hard work in, between the Nike Skills Academies and the LeBron James Camp… and I’ve just tried to grow from there.

It translates also back to AAU ball.
Yes, it does. It really started from USA camp. We worked very hard from there and coaches there just said, you know, to play as hard today in practice as you will tomorrow in the games. We all tried to take that to heart, you know.

Speaking of USA Basketball, what was it like playing with Tyus Jones? How did he mesh with the team as your point guard?
Oh, yeah, it was really good group and Tyus was one of the best guards at passing. He really facilitated more than he scored for our team, but, you know, he could score anytime that he wanted.

In terms of watching tapes or games of older players, which ones have you enjoyed watching most?
I’ve actually enjoyed watching a lot, but recently I was watching the Boston Celtics against the Houston Rockets. I just loved to watch Larry Bird move around the floor and seeing how he stayed active and involved. Then, I’ve also been watching the Portland Trailblazers against the Nets or I mean the 76ers back when they had Doctor J and just trying to take from that and how they played hard and how they would try to get their baskets.

I saw you yesterday trying to incorporate the bank shot, which is sadly missing in a lot of the younger guys’ games.
Oh, yeah, definitely.

What did you think of the recent SI article?
Yeah, it was real good. You know I appreciate it. The guy interviewed me and he thought I was a very good guy.
Yeah, well, you are.
Thanks, you know I’m just glad with the way it turned out and I appreciated his time. I’m just so glad that I had an opportunity to have an article on me and I never want to take it for granted.

How do you account for the improvement in your explosiveness? When you’re dunking the ball, how much does the thought of igniting the crowd play into what you’re going to do?
You know I just started to get a little more bounce.
Sure.
Yeah, and you know the weight going down has helped me a lot as far as being lighter and helping me stay in the air a little longer.

What about your match-up with (Kuran) Iverson? He’s got a lot of tools too and he’s around your size, age, and athleticism.
Yeah, I’ve got to say that he brought the best out in me. He made me play harder and not so sluggish. In the beginning, I thought he got the best of me and so I needed to come out strong for my team in the second half.

Thank you very much. It was great to see you, Jabari.
It was great to see you.[/private]

BDN Premium Free-view – In depth with prospect Quinn Cook

BDN Recruiting Analyst Andre Slater goes 1 on 1 with Quinn Cook in B our latest premium offering. Join BDN Premium for full site access and get inside the world of recruiting. Photo Rick Crank for Blue Devil Nation

This interview was originally posted on BDN Premium on 7-31.  This is a free-view of that interview that was conducted by fellow BDN recruiting analyst Andrew Slater. We hope you will compare this piece to others offerings and then try our subscription section for yourself. 

As the point guard for DeMatha, Quinn Cook led the Washington area Catholic school to a City Title and a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Championship, earning the Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year award as a junior. In July, Quinn helped lead the United States to a gold medal, including dishing out a team-high eleven assists in the Championship game against Poland, at the FIBA Under-17 World Basketball Championship in Hamburg, Germany. Before leaving for Germany, Cook made the decision to spend his senior year in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia at national power Oak Hill Academy, whose long list of alumni includes Duke guards Nolan Smith and William Avery.  After playing in front of Duke coach Nate James at the recent Adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas, Quinn spoke with Blue Devil Nation about his decision to transfer from DeMatha to Oak Hill, changing others’ perceptions of him through his play with the USA Under-17 team, and Duke’s interest in him, among various topics.

What was the experience like being part of a gold medal winning team in Germany?

It was a great experience. I got to play with a lot of great people in my class. Players like Marquis Teague and players like that so it was just a wonderful experience competing and playing for the national team and being able to win the world championship. It’s a blessing, but it was a lot of hard work. We didn’t want to be outworked.

What did you do with that gold medal after you received it?

I gave it to my mom. So, I guess she’s going to put it in her room.

Obviously, your father was very important to you, what do you think he would of thought of you winning the gold medal and did you think about what his reaction would have been after you guys won the gold medal?

Without him, I wouldn’t be here. He was the one who put the basketball in my hands. I just try to honor him and his name and his character not only when I’m on the court, but in the time when I’m away from the court. I want people to see him when they see me out here or in the community.

Who are some guys on the team that you became close with over the time spent with the team?

I tried to get close with [private] really everybody on the team and just, you know, establish relationships.

Were there one or two guys that you were particularly close with?

Oh, yeah, Marquis Teague and Tony Wroten. We definitely were real close on the team. We definitely became real close. We hung out and stuff.

I know you’re a big Kobe guy. What did you think of the whole LeBron announcement and decision?

Well, I respect his decision. I can’t knock him for wanting to win a ring. You know he’s in Miami where he’s now with D. Wade and that’s a pretty big and bold move, but he still can’t beat Kobe. He can’t. Not yet, at least.

You’re moving on to Oak Hill. What went into that decision? Are you excited about it?

I’m very excited about it. I get to play with some great players. It was just, um..

Too many distractions?

Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it. There were just too many distractions and things going on. My mom is a single mom, man. You know I don’t really have that strong male figure in my life and, you know, Coach Jones was that. I’m blessed for that, but there was, well, you know, a lot of drama going on. Plus, on the basketball court, I don’t feel like I like I have anything left to prove in the DC leagues.

Yeah, you’re the first junior to win the player of the year in more than four decades. Now you’re going to be playing a really national schedule for Oak Hill and more games as well.

Yeah, definitely, the schedule is going to be a challenge, but it’ll make me better in the long-run. I also think that Oak Hill will get me ready, both on and off of the court, playing away from home and my mom and everybody else will help become more of a man. Just becoming a man and being by myself.

I do think it will help with your adjustment for college. Not just at Oak Hill, but a lot of guys that have gone up to the New England boarding schools and have gotten away from the distractions have come out better prepared for college life and basketball. When do you head to Oak Hill?

I have no clue. (laughs)

Well, what are your goals for this season? A National Championship? McDonald’s All-American?

Undefeated. I’d love to go undefeated. For me, personally, in order would be to be the national champion, to be a McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand All-American, and then to make the Nike Hoops Summit.

What’s it like to have Sidiki (Johnson) join DC Assault before you guys play together at Oak Hill?

I think it’s been great to have him join us so that we can establish some chemistry before we play at Oak Hill together. We’re both coming in as seniors and so we don’t have a lot of time to work on that, but this will help.  We played together at the Pangos (All-American Camp), but this is another level.

Has he been talking to you about joining him at Arizona?

Not too much really. He’s been cool about it. He obviously wants me to go there, but he’s not pushing anything.

Are you going to take all five of your visits?

Yeah, I don’t know which five schools I’m going to visit yet, but I do know that I’d like to take all five of my visits.

At this point, what are your schools?

I’ve got ten schools right now: Villanova, Duke, Wake Forest, NC State, Arizona, UCLA, West Virginia, Rutgers, St. John’s and Georgetown.

Okay, do you have a timeframe for when you’d like to decide by or cut down on your list?

I want to decide by the fall, but I don’t want to rush just too quickly into anything because, you know, it’s a big decision. It’s probably the biggest decision I’m going to make at this point in my life.

I understand. Do you think you opened up a lot of eyes by how you played over in Germany? The fact that you were more of a distributor than a scorer, as you have been asked to be for both DeMatha and your DC Assault team. Wrongly or rightly, some seemed to think that you’re more of a gunner, but then you led the USA team in assists.

Yeah, definitely. Well, I mean, I hope so because I’ve always been a pass-first point guard, but, with both of those teams, they’ve asked me to score more for us to win and so, you know, I have, but, believe me, I love to pass the ball and get others involved. I’ll do whatever my coach feels he needs me to do to win. I’m just trying to be helpful. Whatever my coach or my team needs me to do, I’ll do. No doubt. So, yeah, I hope it made people realize there’s more to my game than just scoring or whatever people thought before.

Yeah, I remember somebody you know told me that was how you felt about eighteen months ago and you were able to be more of a distributor when you were younger at DeMatha. At this point, what do you think will be the most important factor in your decision for college?

My relationship with the coaches is definitely number one at this point. I just want to feel comfortable with them and have them feel comfortable with me. After that, everything else can take care of itself.

You’ve played against probably every other top player in your class, at some point or another. Who are some other guys that you really walked away respecting or were really good challenges for you?

Johnny O’ Bryant. The guy works his tail off and gave max effort. Johnny, yeah.

What about other point guards? Anyone stand out?

Oh, oh, oh. Marquis Teague is probably the toughest offensive point guard to check and Tony Wroten is tough too, with his size and everything.

For a player your age, I always think that you have a high basketball IQ. You try to make up for what others may have in height and quickness with your mind for basketball. Have you thought about getting into coaching after your playing career is over?

Hopefully, after the NBA, yep. I want to make the NBA and play as long as I can, but, after that, yeah.

Now, I know that you were a North Carolina fan growing up, but now Duke is recruiting you. You obviously know and are friends with a lot of the guys in the Duke program now, though.

Yeah, but I cheered for Duke. I mean even growing up, even though I was a North Carolina fan, I always respected Duke and what they accomplished and Coach K.  Now, I mean they have a lot of guys that I know and am close friends with too. I like Duke a lot.

So, you weren’t one of those guys that felt they had to hate Duke because you liked North Carolina. Who, on the coaching staff, have you spoken with most?

Well, both Coach James and Coach K. Those are the two that I’ve spoken to most. I spoke with Coach K probably the most.

I saw Coach James watching you today. What have they said to you?

Yeah, I saw him too. They’re very interested in me because, well, you know, um, they’re highly interested in me and we’ll go from there.

What do you feel that can immediately bring to a program?

Toughness. Definitely toughness. I’m not the fastest or biggest or strongest guy, but I’ll out tough my defender and beat him with heart. My heart and toughness is as big as anyone’s.

What’s one thing that fans don’t know about Nolan Smith?

That he and Mike Beasley are like my Godbrothers and mentors. He’s helped me with my situation with my father as much as anyone. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.

Yeah, I saw Nolan last night at the Wynn.  He’s obviously helping the USA team, but I’m glad that he was so helpful to you. Thanks for your time, Quinn.

No problem. No problem.

Las Vegas AAU Action continues – Miller, Bello, Hairston, Thornton and more

Quincy Miller
Quincy Miller

There was more AAU action in Las Vegas today as the event nears the end.  There are complete reports from the events on the Blue Devil Nation Premium message board and plenty will be coming in the week ahead.  Mark Watson has just finished up with the Showcase in Orlando and is ready for the AAU Nationals which begin to day.  The Blue Devil Nation is on top of Duke Basketball recruiting folowing true targets to close out the AAU season.

The following are notes from Las Vegas [private] which are located on the premium message board from Sunday.  For the complete group of notes, go to the message board.  If you are a paying subscriber (which you are if you can read this) you need to register for the message board separately if you haven’t already.

Team Detroit hung on to win 51-50 over MBA Elite.
McCallum and Ferguson had 12 apiece.
LaQuinton Ross and Rodney Hood were a combined 3/17. Demarco Cox had 10 points and 8 boards.

D-One wins 87-76, but the score isn’t indicative of how close the game was.
Bello was 8/9 from the field.  Amazingly, he still hasn’t hit a jump shot from the field in the seven games I’ve watched of his. They now advance to the semi-finals of the Reebok Summer Championships.

I’m not sure whether they’ll be broadcasting the next game live, but they do have some videos up already.

Miller and Bello are set to tip off against the Franchize All-Stars.
California Supreme(Gary Franklin, Dwayne Pollee, Keala King, Tyler Lamb) will take on Team Detroit (McCallum, Ziegler, Ferguson) in the other semi-final.

It’s scary to think that this kid has two more years of high school. Miller could get minutes on this team now…Q Miller with a three as I’m typing this. LoL  He had four blocks in one sequence. [/private]