SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Of the 2013 recruits on hand at the HoopHall Classic, the most high-profile players coming into the event were, without question, two 6-7 swingmen: Duke-bound Jabari Parker and the reclassified (2013) and uncommitted Andrew Wiggins.
Parker and Wiggins, likely to be compared and contrasted for years and years to come, each showed why they could be competing for the opportunity to shake Adam Silver’s hand first at the 2014 NBA Draft.
While leading his team to an 81-68 win over perennial power Oak Hill Academy, Parker (28 points on 12-19 FG, 3-8 3FG, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 2 turnovers) proved that he’s rounding back into form from a foot injury he sustained during the travel circuit this July.
“It’s a statement game for myself,” Parker said, leaning up against the wall, crowded by reporters. “I just need to get back to where I was last year. I’m not worried about anyone else because I know what I have to do to be good. And as long as I keep progressing, I’m going to keep challenging myself.”
Parker is one of those players who knows that no matter where he’s at, he can’t be satisfied. With all of the bullseyes that have been placed on his back over the years, there’s always going to be somebody coming after his spot, which is why he’s always striving to become more like an NBA superstar rather than simply a McDonald’s All-American.
“Rebounding. Always being on the attack,” said Parker, an equally smooth jump shooter in catch-and-shoot situations or off the bounce (especially going right). “Being that player because then you know, you see all the players like Kobe, LeBron, KD, they’re always on attack, always on their feet so I can keep the defender always guessing.”
“I’ve [always] had it in me. I was a little shy before then but now I’m starting to get it back where I’m always being on attack, attack,” explained Parker.
The humble composure Parker carries himself with has helped to define him throughout his basketball career. Ever since he got to high school, Parker’s been labeled the next chosen one by recruitniks all over the nation. Up until his senior season, when Andrew Wiggins reclassified from 2014 to 2013, Parker was considered the premier player in the country by most prep scouts (though there are others, like uncommitted Julius Randle, Kentucky-bound Andrew Harrison, future Hoosier, Noah Vonleh and Florida recruit Chris Walker who could be discussed, and with good merit).