How he got here
Way back during his freshman year, at the final Carolina Challenge, Kwe Parker already understood how to work a crowd. The slender guard threw down a slew of eye-catching dunks that March afternoon, catching lobs and generally making plays one doesn’t often observe from a player who stands 6-1.
Parker entered his sophomore season at Fayetteville (N.C.) Trinity Christian as more or less a perceived equal to teammate Dennis Smith, but after Smith blew up early that year he came to be viewed as a running mate. Smith was the substance, while Parker was the show.
|Parker’s athletic achievements have earned him admiration from his peers|
And because Smith played point guard, Parker’s opportunities to play on the ball were rare. He opted to go his own way for his junior campaign, and although still not a full-time point guard he’s certainly playing the position more often at High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan and also is learning how to feed a big man in elite teammate Harry Giles.
But while it’s true Giles commands the bulk of the headlines, Parker no longer gets depicted as an athletic sideshow. Currently ranked No. 75 in the class nationally, he has impressed onlookers of all stripes — fans, peers, scouts and, most importantly, college coaches — with his improvement and dedication to becoming a complete player.
As a result more scholarship offers are beginning to trickle in. Parker is fielding overtures from Florida State, Kansas State, Wake Forest (junior teammate Brandon Childress is a Wake commit), Nebraska and others, and that number is likely to increase between now and summer.
To 2015. …
So we’ve established that Parker has improved, but you might wonder exactly how much? Well, for one thing, he’s now a legitimate combo guard rather than an undersized wing. That forms the basis of a crucial distinction, because the recruiting outlook for the former hardly resembles that of the latter.
Parker’s quickness also has made him a candidate to defend both guard spots, but now he legitimately can stake a claim as an offensive combo as well. He has improved his dribbling, passing and decision-making, and he has learned how to coexist with an even more gifted player (Giles) without sacrificing his own aggressiveness.
It was Parker who contributed several critical plays at the recent HSOT Invitational, when Wesleyan found itself trailing Orangeville Prep (Canada) in the championship tilt. And while he still can get loose with his left hand dribble, he performed well handling against pressure overall.
And of course he remains a top-shelf finisher. Runouts and alley-oops to 6-1 guards tend to evaporate as a player moves up in competition, but Parker may occasionally surprise big men with dunks in college like a 1996 Allen Iverson.
More significantly, everyone watching him the remainder of this season and into the spring evaluation period will scrutinize his point guard skills closely. He doesn’t have to prove himself a true point, only capable of playing the position as needed. His athleticism enables him to play taller than his height, so without question many coaches would be happy to start a shorter backcourt with Parker playing off the ball initially.
Meanwhile, he’ll also have chance to establish that he’s a genuinely improved shooter. Not known for his exploits from long-range, Parker nevertheless has worked hard on his form and is getting better results.
Bottom line, over the next six months he’ll have a chance to capitalize on what has been a highly encouraging junior campaign.