HAMPTON – Tony Parker is a 6’9,” 270 lb sophomore from Miller Grove high school in Lithonia, Georgia. He was selected last May to be a part of the twelve-member inaugural USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team. Parker plays both center and power forward for the Georgia Stars AAU program. After a 21 point, 8 rebound game against the Charlotte Royals at the Boo Williams Sportsplex, he spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a variety of issues.
How was your season?
Well, it was good, but tough. I got injured at the end and basically missed the postseason. I had a couple of injuries, so that was tough.
You looked completely healed. Is everything cool for you, health wise?
Oh, yeah. Everything’s better now, but the timing was just bad. We won twenty-two straight and, with seven sophomores, we should be able to compete for a title in the future.
Can you talk about the experience of making and playing on the USA team?
Oh, that was a great experience. It was probably the best I’ve had so far. There was so much competition. I mean everybody could play and everybody went hard. My roommate, Johnny O’Bryant, is out here right now. He was playing so well. [private]
Yeah, he competes so hard, compared to some other bigs. I don’t know he sustains it sometimes. What was he like as a roommate?
He’s a funny dude, but, yeah, you’re right. He goes hard all the time. Some guys think they’re going hard or try to make it look like they are. We had so much fun out there competing and hanging out.
A kid I know a little bit from my area is Kyle Anderson. He was talking about how difficult the competition was.
Yeah, and it was especially tough for guys from the East to get used to the altitude. That altitude will make you feel like you’re choking a little bit up there. We were also some of the younger guys too.
Let’s talk about your recruitment. Do you have any timeframe for when you’d like to decide by?
Not really. Probably the end of next summer, but I’m not sure.
Are most programs recruiting you as a four or a five? Do you have any preference?
I’ll play either and they’re recruiting me for both. I just look at it as I’m a basketball player. Just roll the ball out there and I’ll play.
In this game, they put a seven footer on you and you played almost exclusively back-to-the-basket. Do you prefer to play back-to-the-basket or face-up?
I definitely need to work on my face-up game. Right now, I just like playing with my back-to-othe-basket and killing them with my drop-steps.
Do you consider that to be your go-to move right now?
That’s a good question. That’s a real good question. I guess my favorite move right now is drop-step middle.
You like to use that backboard, if need be.
Yeah, you get a more of a chance to see the basket and use that backboard, if you have to.
What kind of style of play are you looking for?
It doesn’t matter. I’ll play any way you want.
I would think with your ability to run the court that an up-tempo offense would take advantage of your strengths.
Yeah, I can definitely outrun most big guys, but I’m open to anything.
Where do you like to catch it?
The low box-either side, really
Have you taken any visits so far?
Just Tennessee, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Auburn
Who’s the best player you’ve faced so far?
In my freshman year, they put me on Derrick Favors. Oh, man, he was a beast to guard, especially as a freshman. That was, by far, my toughest match-up so far.
What do you think you can bring to a program?
I can run the court, rebound, score a lot around the basket, and just compete. I’ve got great hands too.
Yeah, you do.
You know what the trick is? It’s those grip balls. You can just be sitting on the couch and using those things and it really helps your hands and wrists and stuff.
If you were defending yourself, what’s your biggest weakness right now?
Oh, my ankle really. I want to work on my face-up game too.
What are you looking for ideally in a college?
Strong values in the coaches, a winning program, do they develop big men or do they just throw them out there because they have to, does every big man have at least one move, and do they get them the ball. I’m going to be looking for that. I want to see a track record. I mean that’s one thing about UConn is they have a track record of developing big guys. Their big men get better and play in the league too. So, I’ll be looking at a lot of things.
Do you have any player that you try to emulate?
Dwight Howard. He competes and he’s got so many moves and he’s from my area too.
Will location be a factor?
No, I’ll go anywhere.
How big are you now and what are you projected to grow to by the time you reach college?
Well, they say I’ll be about 6’10,” but I’m 6’9,” 270 right now. My dad’s actually only a normal sized guy, like, maybe, 5’ 8” or 5’10” or something.
Have you spoken with any of the Duke coaches?
Yeah, I have. I actually visited Duke with my friend Evan Nolte. He’s a player too. Do you know him?
Well, we went up there and they took us around and I talked to Coach K for like twenty minutes.
What was your impression of Coach K?
He’s just a great coach. He’s a funny guy, too but serious too. I always think that meeting was the reason I made the USA team or at least it helped.
Well, the man has some power with the USA team. It couldn’t have hurt.
So you got to see the facilities and his office. They say it has a finger-touch entrance or something.
(laughs) Yeah, well, it kind of looked like the President’s office. I knew Mason Plumlee a little bit from playing against him too.
Where’d you play against him?
At this event called the Chick-Fil-A
Now, you’re recovering from the injuries, but are you already planning on doing some strength and conditioning.
Yep, those are killers, man, but you’ve got to do them. I work out with about five guys. We do a lot of running.
Do you work on just speed or adding strength?
We do it all. That’s the time of year when you have to get after it. I’m trying to add some upper body strength.
Do you know where you’re going to camps this year?
I was planning on going to the NBA Camp, but, now, I was talking with some people about not going because of the USA team. There are time conflicts and I want to be in shape for the USA team. I don’t want to get worn out by the NBA Camp. The better competition is going to be out in Colorado.
Lastly, what would you like the audience to know about you away from the court?
That I look like a mean player on the court, but I’m a nice guy off of it. I’m a fun guy to hang around with off the court and laugh with, but I’m a nasty guy on that court. [/private]