TDD: Looking back on the first set of visits, what are your general impressions?
Sonny Parker: They've been really good so far. All of the schools have done really well and put forth good presentations.
What kind of questions did have for the coaches?
For me, the most important thing is for Jabari to have a really great relationship wit the coaches, and the way he would fit in with their program. I'm also interested in how they would develop him, while making sure he is around good character kids. We'd also want him treated fairly.
Are there any concerns about the role he'd play or the players who are already on the depth chart?
Not at all. Jabari is the type of player who can play with anyone.
Since Coach K and Coach Izzo were the most recent visits, can you recap those meetings?
Both of them were really great. Both are at a level that's just very high with their programs. With Coach K, he's like the Dean of Coaches. He's been coaching for 30-plus years, and he's obviously been very successful. With Coach Izzo, he's been to the Final Four six times in the last 14 years. Coach Izzo hasn't had too many All-Americans in his program, but he runs a blue collar program. Both of them…what cay you say? They are great coaches and great people.
What was it like having everyone in-home?
It was all very comfortable for us. When you're hosting the coaches you are sort of on your home court, and we're really comfortable in that environment. All in all, they were really great visits.
What was the structure of the visits?
We really just got down to the point of the trip. That's why they were there. They came in and made their presentations. They talked about their history, their past players, and that kind of thing. We, of course, asked certain questions about the school, and the classes Jabari would be taking, the dorm situations, and general things like that. We also wanted to know about the academic advisory services, what he'd been majoring in, what kind of classes would benefit with him long term. What the students are like, the makeup of the student body, etc.
Were any of the presentations really creative?
Pretty much all of them had a video explaining how they play, highlighting their present players, previous players, and things like that. They showed clips of practices, games, and even what the campuses and dorms are like.
Did every school compare Jabari to past players?
Pretty much every school did make comparisons because he needed to see the past guys at his position to see what the coaches did with them.
What are your impressions of those comparisons?
Pretty much everyone compared him to players who played the two, there, and four positions. It was good to see that and how similar he was to their past players. He's 6'8 and can play a variety of positions pretty easily. Whatever helps the team the most is how he's going to play. He's a natural wing player, but he can post up guys if that's what the team needs. That's his major concern -- helping his team win.
How do you, as a parent, approach this process with schools who have huge reputations and stature?
Well, his main thing is the desire to get better and he wants a coach and program that will push him to get better every day. Whatever school he ends up picking, it'll be because he feels he can best develop as a player there.
How big of an issue is it when thinking about how schools will help market Jabari?
That is definitely something we will look at. He's already very well known, and we want to know how the coaches see him being presented as a player. The same way we want to see how he will be developed as a player.
Did any of the schools mention anything about how they would market Jabari?
Some of them mentioned certain things about how they would put him out there, and how he'd play on national television. Others talked about how they'd put him in situations to succeed. Most of them had their own plans. Some of them have their own networks, and others have access to the media that most schools don't have. They all talked about their ability to promote him as a person and a player.
In talking with Jabari, he mentioned that Coach Donovan made quite an impression on him…
He did a really good job. He talked about what they did with Bradley Beal, and how they won back to back championships a few years back. He talked about how players are allowed to be more creative and versatile in their system, especially those guys who play on the wing.
What that a unique pitch?
No. Duke, Michigan State, and Kansas all really emphasized something similar. They talked about how he's a go through and go to player. That he'd have all different kinds of opportunities on the court. They each talked about how they play similar to the way the NBA plays, and how he'd have plenty of opportunities to do well, and stay within the team concept while doing lots of different things on the court.
When meeting with Coach K, did he relay anything regarding his Team USA experience?
He talked about how great it was to coach guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony. That experience was illustrative of how Jabari would play under him if he decided to go there. He also talked about how much more offensive minded Jabari could be in Duke's system.
What was the reaction to that pitch?
Well, you can't really argue or disagree with that because with Coach K, he's the brand. He's coached some of the best players in the world, and he's had an opportunity to coach the NBA guys and that has only helped him with his experience and knowledge.
Having hosted these coaches, do you feel there is a better connection?
Yes. They all have different styles and personalities. Some are more intense than others, but with guys like Coach K and Coach Izzo, they get results. They maximize what they have, and even though their styles are different, they get results. You can't argue with their success of either program, and the fact that they have good character players.
What were your impressions on the various presentations which outlined their facilities, nutrition people, and the supplemental support they provide?
We definitely appreciated that. It was good to see that some had 24/7 access to their facilities, and how that helps the players get better on their own. The most important thing was the people in the team organizations. All the high tech stuff offered, the support staff, the trainers, and all that kind of thing. When we do the visits, that'll be something we want to do - to meet the support staff and advisors.
What else is important for you guys when thinking about official visits?
We want to see what his daily schedule would be like. Where would he classes be, what would his daily life be like? The ability to see a game. It's important to see all of that and what everyday life is like on campus.
Jabari mentioned he is looking to wait and sign in the spring period, but may verbally commit in December or January. Is that the plan?
I think he's going to potentially make a decision in November, but we're not in a rush. If he waits until the spring, that's not a big deal. When we get to that stage, we'll sit down and talk about it as a family.
What are the benefits to waiting?
If it were me, I'd say maybe go ahead and get it out of the way, but it's going to be his choice and we need to make sure he sees everything he needs and wants to see before making his decisions.
Does that mean he will need to take all five official vistas before making a decision?
I definitely think he needs to do that. Those visits will be really important.