With the news that Jabari Parker will make his college choice in one week, we're about to enter a new phase of the basketball recruiting cycle. Action has picked up, particularly with the 2014 recruits, and Jabari's decision may only accelerate the process.
I'm not sure what’s left to say about Jabari Parker and he hasn’t even told us his college destination yet. As you probably all know, Jabari announced that he’s going to reveal his school of choice one week from today on the 20th. It is worth noting how unconventional this timing is. I can think of three basic moments in which 95% of recruits decide to commit .
- Right before the November early signing period
- Just in time for the late period in April
- Out of the blue at a relatively random time of their choosing.
Jabari has done something rare in committing shortly after his opportunity to sign with a school last month. This could merely be the pace he moved at, getting caught off guard a bit by not being able to finish his official visits in time for November. However, he never completed the final trip to Stanford so it doesn’t appear the five officials were the absolute necessity to end things. Not to get conspiratorial but maybe this is part of a plan. Perhaps Jabari and his family enjoy the idea that, even while committed, his college coach is excluded from publicly talking about his arrival until signing in April. Maybe there’s a perception that the NCAA gag will take some heat off of Jabari for his senior year. If nothing else, the decision to wrap it up next week does appear to be largely about letting Parker enjoy his senior season at Simeon as he recovers from a foot injury.
Where is Jabari headed for 2013-2014? If you believe his father Sonny, even he is out of the loop about Jabari’s choice and content to remain that way. That should give a moment’s pause about whether to believe anyone who tells you they’re confident about who Jabari will announce for. That said, Jabari is coming to MSU. I kid, sort of! I’ve been confident about Jabari for a long time (ask Con-T!) and nothing has happened to shake my opinion. Yes, there are rumors about a great Duke visit that blew MSU out of the water but it’s hard to know whether there’s anything to that. Multiple national analysts are pegging Duke as the choice but MSU fans are already encouraged about the number of Chicago people talking about MSU as the likely pick. Two folks, Daniel Poneman and Kyle Randle, are young Chicago insiders who use their youth to develop personal relationships with recruits. They’re both on the record that Jabari would head to MSU and affirmed as such last night. Perhaps most exciting in twitter news was Cliff Alexander chiming in with a vote for MSU and even giving a retweet to a fan who said this (more on this in a minute):
It’s going to a be an anxious week for Spartans who have followed Jabari Parker for a long time. On a personal note, I’m a bit fatigued with it and that’s helping me stay calm. I’m sure we’ll be bombarded with conflicting rumors for the next seven days but I’m pretty confident that Jabari ends up choosing the G&W and joining the tradition of his favorite college player Draymond Green. Had to throw that in once more…
Cliff Alexander has been making news this month. First, there were rumors that he might leave the D-Rose All Stars in order to play on Jahlil Okafor and Jabari Parker’s crew the Mac Irvin Fire. As I talked about on twitter, this couldn’t hurt MSU. The management of the All-Stars is on the record about wanting to see Cliff play at MSU’s closest competition Kentucky. He even recently tweeted about how badly some around him (I wonder who?) wanted him to commit to John Calipari. The less influence they have over Cliff, the better for Michigan State. In the days after the rumor broke, the D-Rose folks went on twitter to thank Alexander for his commitment to their team suggesting he will stick around. However, summer AAU is many months away and I wouldn't set anything in stone yet. A lot can still happen. Most recently, Alexander has been suggesting that he's far from thinking about making a college choice and is instead actively interested in gaining more offers and checking out more schools.
I recognize that Jabari Parker is unlikely to play two years at whatever school he chooses but I don’t think you can dismiss his influence on the 2014 players, especially Cliff. He’s close to both Alexander and Okafor and is seen as an older brother of the Chicago prep scene. Parker’s commitment could be a catalyst to recruiting dominoes starting to fall. Having Jabari select MSU would give Alexander one more piece of cover to support his decision to become a Spartan even if it isn’t the first choice of his AAU mentors. The wake of Jabari's selection might tell us a great deal.
Izzo has been paying close attention to another member of the 2014 big three, Minnesota PG Tyus Jones. The people over at SpartanTailgate/24-7 have been doing a great job ($) of keeping track of how close a relationship Izzo is cultivating with Tyus. It’s been said that he’s no less important to Tom Izzo than Jabari Parker is. Izzo and Coach Mike Garland were both taking the private plane for a spin to watch him play last week. Always busy, Coach Izzo also saw Jones' friend Jahlil Okafor perform with a 34-point effort for Chicago's Whitney Young.
Like Parker, Jones could be another player whose allegiance speeds along recruiting. Most players love the idea of playing with a versatile, elite point guard and Jones is best prep in America. He’s already declared that he’s down to a final eight schools and his coach recently speculated that he might take advantage of his eligibility to travel for official visits on January 1st and reach a decision by the summer. Considering he wants to bring along Okafor and possibly others in a package deal, Jones’ goal may be to commit early and start recruiting himself.
Speaking of recruiting players, they could look at Kevon Looney of Milwaukee. Coach Izzo watched him play on Tuesday night and saw a powerhouse triple-double performance. There’s highlight video of the game:
Looney has been on fire after putting up 50 in his season start last month. Not only can he score but he’s known as a very good rebounder and a solid ballhandler for his size. Though always highly regarded, he’s solidifying his standing as a Top 10 player in the 2014 class. The Midwest proximity of Looney plus MSU's other regional targets could help the Spartans here.
Odds and ends:
Walled Lake Western’s Miroslav Jaksic showed that he’s more than simply tall (6’11") with a 35 point performance against Detroit Pershing. There’s talk of high major interest but it’s hard to gauge what level of prospect this 2014 young man is. He has been visited by Tom Izzo already. PrepHoopsTV has video of that 35-point performance.
Steve Bell named Bradley Brechting his "Class A Underclassman of the Week." Brecthing is a big sophomore from Cedar Springs who has already visited Michigan State. He’s been called "a player to watch" by UMHoops.
In a segment I like to call "Dude, He’s a Freshman…" Jay at PrepHoopsTV has another video this time featuring the high school debut of Josh Jackson of Detroit Consortium. Already tall and making plays, Jackson is as close to a "freshman phenom" the state has had since LaDontae Henton and Jackson is likely an even better prospect.
Michigan State was expected in to see Carlton Bragg, a 6’9" sophomore from the Cleveland area. Bragg is a "way too early" Top 25 prospect on Scout.
We'll check back in a week for what hopefully is a Jabari Parker to MSU Celebration Party.