Boys Basketball: Jabari Parker maintains focus in Minnesota

Story Image Jabari Parker executes a powerful dunk for Simeon against Peoria Manual. Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times

Updated: April 26, 2012 6:19PM

When Jabari Parker and his teammates on the Mac Irvin Fire club team took the floor in the opening game of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, the event was littered with media members and college coaches anxious to see the consensus No. 1 player in America. The event marked the first spring weekend that Division I college coaches could attend an AAU event since 2008 and the majority of the buzz centered on Parker, the 6-8 junior forward from Simeon.

Scout, Rivals, and ESPN have all bestowed the No. 1 ranking on Parker and his national reputation has been well documented, and at The High Performance Academy in suburban Eagan, Minn. Parker was trailed the entire weekend by fans, media and every major college basketball powerhouse in the country. Still, Parker somehow maintains his focus on playing and improving and doesn’t fixate on who is watching. Parker averaged 16 points a game over three games in the EYBL, and sat out the final game as a precautionary measure after coming down awkwardly on his ankle in a Saturday night win.

“I glance at the coaches a little bit and notice they’re there, but once it’s time to play I focus on me and my teammates and trying to get the win,” Parker said.

While coaches are forbidden to speak to prospective student-athletes at AAU events, that certainly doesn’t stop a strong media contingent from following up with Parker after every single game. There aren’t a lot of free moments for Parker when he enters an event.

“I don’t mind the attention. I can’t mind it because right now I have it easy,” Parker said. “Once I start getting a lot of attention at the next level that is when it starts to get harder. Right now I don’t really complain and I take these interviews and attention as a positive.”

There has been no lists or favorites mentioned in Parker’s recruitment, but he still knows what he’s looking for in a future college program.

“I’m looking for a program that fits me and I have to get along with the coach,” Parker said. “I want a place that’s going to build my character and I want to mature and be exposed to the things that are coming my way in the future.”

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