Considered by most to be the #1 prospect in the 2013 high school class, Jabari Parker
(#1 Scout, #2 Rivals, #1 ESPN) came into this Hoophall Classic event with major expectations. The end result was somewhat uneven, as his Simeon squad was blown out 75-50 by Findlay Prep, with Parker scoring 24 points on 10-22 shooting.
Parker stands out first and foremost thanks to his tremendous size. He measured 6-9, 222 pounds at the 2011 LeBron James
Skills Academy, with a 6-11 wingspan, but plays almost exclusively on the wing.
Still only 16 years old, Parker is likely still far from reaching his full athletic potential. At this point, he appears to possess just average quickness and explosiveness, something that may become more pronounced in the future as the level of competition he faces stiffens.
Incredibly polished and mature, Parker has an outstanding skill-level for a player his age. His shooting mechanics are excellent, complete with terrific footwork and deep range. He can make shots with his feet set, but is also extremely dangerous pulling up off the dribble, being capable of getting clean looks off fairly easily thanks to his size, smarts, and ability to create separation smoothly from his defender.
More than just a shooter, Parker is also a capable passer who appears to enjoy getting teammates involved. He passes ahead in transition when the opportunity presents itself and plays the game at a very nice pace, keeping mistakes to a minimum and showing impressive basketball acumen considering his lack of experience. He finds plenty of ways to score around the rim at this level, whether he's seeking out a putback by crashing the offensive glass or being aggressive on a simple post-up play, Parker shows very nice instincts for picking up easy points.
Despite his tremendous size, Parker can also handle the ball in transition or take his man off the dribble in the half-court, even if he's not an exceptionally efficient shot-creator. His lack of explosiveness hampers him somewhat from getting all the way to the rim, as he still needs to improve his ball-handling skills, particularly with his left hand. If he's unable to simply bully his way to the rim using his superior strength, he's pretty content settling for pull-up jumpers fading away from his opponent, which he can often make with a hand in his face, albeit not a terribly high percentage.
Defensively, Parker shows clear-cut strengths and weaknesses at the moment, like virtually all players his age. On one hand, his size, length, smarts and competitiveness help out tremendously, as he's typically the biggest player on the floor at the high school level and sees most of his time at power forward or center. On the other hand, his underwhelming lateral quickness makes it difficult for him to stay in front of most wing players at the moment, and his intensity wavers, as he tends to get winded late in games due to his average conditioning level. To reach his full potential on this end of the floor, Parker will need to improve his technique, awareness and toughnessthings that will likely come in time as he continues to mature.
Despite only being 16 years old, Parker has received as much national attention
at this stage as any high school player we've seen since O.J. Mayo
. The son of former NBA first round pick Sonny Parker
, Jabari is often lauded for his outstanding intangibles. He's reportedly an outstanding student, an excellent teammate and extremely coachable, which will surely help in his long-term development. He's been described by many respected analysts as the best prospect in high school basketball, and was awarded the prestigious USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year honor, being the youngest recipient ever.
Parker will have to work extremely hard to live up to the incredible accolades he's received at such a young age. It will be interesting to see how he develops athletically over the next few years, as he does not appear to possess the type of quickness and explosiveness you typically find in a #1 overall recruit. With that said, his skill-level, maturity and basketball IQ are unheard of for a player his age. Just how high is Parker's ceiling as a long-term prospect? We'll have to continue to watch and evaluate.