HOOPS: Parsons gets offer from a new school

Chandler Parsons isn't just that tall, skinny kid that plays on the same team with Nick Calathes anymore. For years he's been Tonto to Calathes' Lone Ranger but in this never-ending summer of basketball camps and AAU Tournaments, Parsons has stepped up his game and plenty of schools are taking notice.

(See Chandler Parsons profile)

He's been tearing it up on the AAU circuit, playing with Calathes on Nike Team Florida, but it was at the Billy Donovan Camp at the University of Florida last weekend that Parsons showed he can take his Lake Howell team on his shoulders and carry them. Calathes, the five-star rated Florida commitment, was at the NBA Players Association Development Camp in Richmond until Sunday and point guard Joey Rodriguez was at UMass, getting used to the place he'll call home starting in 2007.

That left Parsons to do it all for the Silver Hawks. In the absence of Calathes and Rodriguez, the 6-9 Parsons assumed the role of chief ball handler, distributor, dominating inside presence, tough rebounder and go to scorer. That's a lot of hats to wear but he wore them well.

"He can do so many things," said Steve Kohn, the veteran Lake Howell coach that stepped down to an assistant's role to his son Reggie the last three years. The Silver Hawks made the state Final Four in Class 5A all three years but didn't win the big one. Reggie has moved on to South Florida where he's become the director of basketball operations at his alma mater. Steve Kohn is back in his old familiar role of head basketball coach at Lake Howell. Parsons is like one of his own kids.

"Chandler's whole game is maturing," said Steve Kohn. "He's only going to get better. He's definitely going to grow taller and get stronger."

Over the last three years, his role has been to run the floor where he's a fine finisher on the fast break and spot up behind the arc to shoot threes. Even though he has the height of a center, Parsons has the game of a big guard. His skinny frame is starting to fill out, though. He's up about 10-12 pounds since his high school season to about 190 now and adding weight through a combination of nutrition and hard workouts with the weights. Doctors seem to think he may grow another inch or two in height as well.

At the Donovan camp, Parsons played the point on the Silver Hawks' half court zone trap press but he showed the quickness to slide down into the paint when shots went up. Offensively Saturday, with firepower in short supply due to the absence of Calathes and Rodriguez, Parsons had back to back games of 47 and 42 points, then finished the day with two games over 30.

Parsons was deadly from behind the three-point line as usual, but what raised the eyebrows of plenty of coaches attending the afternoon session at the O'Connell Center was his ability to put the ball on the floor and take it to the rack. That ability to get his own shot whenever he wanted it is an element of his game that he never showed before on a regular basis.

"That's something I've been working on," said Parsons. "I'm trying to get better getting my own shot off the dribble. I think that makes me more effective because if people try to come out and crowd me I'll be able to take them off the dribble."

Sunday, with Calathes back from Richmond, the Silver Hawks made it to the finals of the camp tournament where they lost to Class 6A power Dr. Phillips, another outstanding team from the Orlando metro area. Parsons delivered 37 points for the Silver Hawks in the championship game.

Old standbys like Ole Miss, South Florida, West Virginia and Virginia Tech are still on his radar with scholarship offers. As interest continues to grow, the offers are pouring in from other places, too. Miami is in the mix now along with Arizona State. Tennessee, Georgia and Wisconsin have also offered and they are being treated as serious contenders.

Parsons took an unofficial visit along with his parents to Miami on Friday. The Hurricanes of Coach Frank Haith already had a commitment from point guard Edwin Rios but they got a real shot in the arm this week when another standout from the Donovan camp, 6-10, 275-pound center Freddy Asprilla of Miami's Calusa Prep committed to The U. Adding Parsons to their recruiting class would give the Hurricanes one of the top 20 classes in the country.

Arizona State has perhaps made up the most ground in recruiting Parsons. The Sun Devils got off to a late start when Herb Sendek left North Carolina State to take the job in Tempe back in April. Sendek, who was an assistant at Providence when Donovan played there and served as an assistant with Donovan at Kentucky, has made Parsons a priority recruit.

Parsons and his family took an unofficial visit to Arizona State a couple of weeks ago and they were impressed with the campus and facilities, but mostly, they like the way Sendek uses his players on the wings.

"They're talking about me as a two (shooting guard) or a three (small forward) and that's basically the same as what I'm doing now," he said. "If they want to go small, they think I can move up and give them a mobile four (power forward) that can take his man outside and can put the ball on the floor."

While Arizona State and Miami seem headed for a duke it out recruiting battle to land Parsons' commitment, there is an outside possibility that the offer Parsons has been praying for could become a last-second reality.

"If I could play here (Florida) that would be my dream," he said. "I understand that there is one kid [in the 2006 recruiting class] that won't make it in and that could open up a scholarship for me. Playing with Nick and playing for the Gators, well that would be a dream come true for me.

"I don't know how that's all going to work out but if they [Florida] offer, that would be ideal for me and ideal for my parents, too, since they would be a couple of hours away."

He knows that all he can do to get that Florida offer is continue to play hard and show the very versatile game that he's been ratcheting up several notches this summer. He will be with Nike Team Florida at the Peach Jam in Augusta, Georgia July 11-14. This is the last big AAU Tournament before the nationals in Orlando later in the month. It could be Parsons' chance to prove once and for all that he's deserving of a place in Florida's recruiting class.

"All I can do is play hard and keep trying to improve," he said. "I hope they'll see what they're looking for."

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