Jabari Parker has made his name on the basketball circuit beyond the prep level because of all the ways he's different than most high school prospects. Most national players of the year spend three years building toward their senior enthronement. Not Parker, who has been considered the best player in the nation for two consecutive years, and still has a senior campaign to come.
Many top prospects spend more time around sneaker marketers than in any church, temple or mosque. Not Parker, a devout Mormon who faces a difficult decision between a future in college and professional basketball and a more traditional Mormon mission.
And, as it turns out, Parker's recruiting has been just as far off the traditional path as the rest of his prep career. As noted by ESPN Chicago, while most top-tier prospects spend hours on their cell phones chatting with coaches and assistants, any calls to Parker go directly through his parents, because only his parents can receive calls or texts intended for the recruit. Jabari Parker is explicitly prohibited from giving out his cell phone number to any college coaches or recruiters in an effort to shield him from all the attention that will continue to gather around his college decision, which looms within the next 12 months.
"Everybody doing their job, but they still can't have Jabari's number," Sonny Parker, Jabari's father, told ESPN Chicago. "That ain't changed.
"We want him to enjoy being who he is. If he wants to talk, we'll ask him first. Right now, we don't want him to be over-bombarded because coaches can sometimes be aggressive, and that can be overwhelming."
According to the elder Parker, new looser restrictions that allow coaches to contact prospective recruits as much as they want have had little effect on the amount of contact Jabari has had with coaches. In the week since the new rules were instituted, Sonny Parker has spoken to Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State and Illinois. Jabari Parker has spoken to none of them.
"I talked to (Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski) the other day," Sonny said. "He wished me a Happy Father's Day. My voicemail is filled. It's been filled for a year."
The younger Parker has been considered a potential once-in-a-generation talent for years, with professional athletes and analysts alike rushing to anoint him the next LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, Krzyzewski among them.
Still, Parker has consistently rejected all those accolades in an attempt to remain humble and remain true to his roots, whether those include a mission at age 19 or not. According to his mother, Lola Parker, everything the family does now — including severely limiting phone calls and texts -- is an attempt to ensure that Jabari grows into the man and player that all hope he will become.
"[Whether or not to go on a Mormon mission will] be his choice to make, but we've encouraged him to, you know, be a good person," Lola Parker, told ABC News. "And that's all we can hope for."
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