Tony Parker weighs in on Walton hire

For anyone criticizing the youth of this University of Memphis coaching staff — Damon Stoudamire, 37, is the oldest — Tony Parker, one of the top centers in the 2012 class, views it as a built-in advantage.

"I like Memphis because they have a young coaching staff, they can really relate to players," Tony Parker told Scout.com Thursday from the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event in Venice Beach, Calif.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner sent national shockwaves Tuesday when he rounded out his coaching staff by hiring Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton, 31.

While some Memphis fans were unhappy with the hire, count the 5-star forward out of Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) as a fan of Pastner's decision.

Parker and Walton actually met at an NBA camp earlier this summer.

"I think it's really cool that Luke Walton is their coach, because he's in the NBA right now," Parker said. "He can really relate to us and show us what he did to make it there.

"I think that's really, really cool. … He's a really good guy and he knows a lot about the game."

The 6-foot-9, 270-pounder currently has a top five of Memphis, Duke, Ohio State, UCLA, and Georgetown.

He said he'd like to decide before his season at Miller Grove gets underway and that he plans on attending this year's Memphis Madness in October.

"I like Memphis because of the atmosphere," Parker said. "The city shows the players so much love."

Parker said he's close with fellow Memphis targets Jarnell Stokes and Alex Poythress. Poythress recently narrowed his list to Duke, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Memphis and said he plans to visit all five.

Parker said the trio has tossed around the idea of playing at the same school.

"We talk about it, we joke about it," Parker said. "Me and Stokes talk all the time about schools. He's a great kid and a great player.

"Me and Alex do, too. Alex is another great, great player. He's really good and smooth, and I think both of those guys are good players. I would love to go to school with them."

Field reporter Inna Lazarev and West Coast recruiting analyst Josh Gershon contributed to this story.


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