2013's Best Checks In

Jabari Parker, the top prospect in the class of 2013 sat down with TDD on Thursday to discuss his upcoming junior season, the changes to recruiting, and just where he wants to take his first official visit.

Now that the high school season is starting up, what's it like being tabbed as one of the best players in the country; especially in a loaded area like Chicago?

Jabari Parker: First and foremost it's an honor to represent my city, Chicago right now. Being recognized for the level of its players is a good thing and I'm grateful to be recognized as one of the best players in Chicago, especially for my leadership that I try to give to my teammates.

How do you balance your regular relationships with other top guys when you're matched up against each other during the season?

I think it makes it real competitive and all the guys know that when we're on the court, it's all business, we're all about winning, but off the court, it doesn't mean that we can't be friends and have respect for each other's games.

What's it been like playing with a talented big guy like Jahlil Okafor in AAU ball?

In all the time I've played with Jahlil, the thing that's great about him is his poise, he does a lot of good things on the court and he plays in a very mature fashion. It's really good playing with him down low because he attracts so much attention, he gets after it on the glass, which makes life much easier on me in the times we have played, which isn't a huge amount.

Do you think in college you'll prefer to play with a more talented big guy or do you want to play with a really talented guard?

I think I'd like to play with a really talented big guy just because I want to play the three in college and be free to do a lot of different things, so playing with a good big guy really helps because they rebound, they can score down low, and that opens things up for everybody else. My thing is I want to play with the best guys around me.

When you think about the college decision, how much does the influence of thousands of fans come into play?

I think the key is to stay keyed in to what I want and what my family and I and my coaches talk about as important, I really need to build a good relationship with the coaching staff that I'm going to go to their school and I need to have a good relationship with the players and I want to make sure I go to a school where they can prepare me for the NBA.

In terms of NBA prep, which coaches stand out as having good reps getting guys ready for that level?

I'd definitely say Duke, they are real good. Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, those are all schools that have an excellent track record with developing good players who go pro.

Let's talk about UNC for a bit Jabari since they have been recruiting you for a while. How have things been going in developing a relationship with them? Have you talked with Coach Williams a good amount?

Well, I'd say yes and no. It's been more so talking with the assistants to be honest, they have told me that Coach Williams is really keyed in on the senior class and recruiting some guys there, so I haven't talked as much with Coach Williams as of yet.

What are your thoughts on that approach?

I think it makes me feel a bit uneasy on what their interest is in me. Like there's other schools that are recruiting me that have let me know early on how much interest they have in me, so I'm not sure where North Carolina stands with me since Coach Williams hasn't really talked with me too much.

You mentioned Ohio State and Michigan State earlier, how is the relationship building going with Coach Matta and Coach Izzo?

It's going really well, both of those of coaches are really great men and great coaches and they have been talking with me and my family a lot.

What kinds of things are you noticing about them during your conversations?

Coach Izzo… he's just real cool, he knows that I'm friend with Draymond Green on his team and with Coach Matta, I like him a lot, he's a really funny guy. Ohio State and Michigan State are both really good programs, I like them a lot.

You've mentioned previously that Coach K and the Duke staff has been making a strong effort with you. Is that continuing now that the contact period wrapped up when they could come visit you in person?

Oh yes sir, Coach K has shown me in many ways that he really wants me to be a part of his program, they have been doing a great job at staying in contact with me and my family.

You've mentioned that being on the phone with Coach K is different for you. What do you mean?

Coach K has been talking a lot with me recently about leadership, and when we talk, we get down to business and talk about basketball and other things. He tells me different things that I can work on as a player which is real cool.

Now that you're developing these relationships with the coaches, what are you really focusing on related to the programs in terms of your decision?

My big thing is I want to play with the best of the best, so I'm looking at what schools do on the court, guys they are bringing in. Like with Ohio State and Michigan State and Duke, they consistently bring in really great players, they have the top talent coming to their schools every year, so that's something I look at.

I know you and your dad have been monitoring the rules changes coming about recently in regards to recruiting. What are your thoughts on the recent change that allows to take officials?

Yeah, that was real interesting to see, that's something I'm going to have to look at to see what I want to do.

Now that you can take official visits in the spring as opposed to waiting until the fall and winter, do you know any programs that you for sure would look at taking an official visit to in the spring or summer?

You know, I think I'd swing out to the West Coast and try and get something done since it's so nice out there in the spring, I'd probably look at officially visiting Stanford in the spring.

Would you officially visit Washington as well since they are on the West Coast and have been recruiting you for awhile?

I'm not sure since I kinda know a lot about them already, I'd probably just visit Stanford and that'd be it.

Would there be any other programs you'd look at visiting in the spring or are would you just rather wait for the fall for the rest?

I think I would probably wait until the fall to take the rest.

If a school asked you if you would like to visit them officially during the spring or summer, is that something you would consider or would you wait until the fall?

I think it'd really depend on my schedule to be honest, but if a school were to ask me, it'd be something I would think about, but I'm not sure if I would take anymore.

So you are saying for sure that you'd visit Stanford officially in the spring, is that correct ?

Yes, that is correct.

Let's talk about Team USA for a minute. Is the experience really different for you this year trying out since you played for Team USA last year?

Yeah, it's real different, for a lot of the guys last year who didn't make it, it was a good chance for them to come in and show how they have improved and there were some guys that really are getting better and better.

What's the attitude in the camp? How competitive was it?

It was real competitive, that's the main goal that the coaches had for us each day, it was very tough. We had two a day practices, we practiced for 2 and ½ hours in the morning and the same in the evening, guys were going at each other, it was a lot of fun.

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