Jabari Parker: From South Shore to (Future) NBA Superstar


Benjamin “Benji” Wilson, Bobby Simmons, Deon Thomas, Nick Anderson, Derrick RoseJabari Parker.

Jabari Parker will live in Chicago high school basketball lore for a long, long time.

Parker joined the exquisite class of Chicago high school basketball stars from the moment he set foot on the Simeon Career Academy campus. Between winning almost a handful of state championship rings and player of the year awards, high school was only the beginning for Parker.

Arguably the best high school player in the country, Parker made his way to one the greatest college basketball programs of the last 25 years: Duke University.

Thursday night, Jabari Parker will probably be one of the first two or three names called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Even with just one season playing for Mike Krzyzewski, Parker showed the nation that he will be a force to be reckoned with at the next level.

In 35 games for the Blue Devils, Parker averaged 19.1 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game and was a Consensus First Team All-American.

(Oh, and had plays like this one throughout the season:)

Yeah, not bad for a kid who grew in the infamous South Shore community on Chicago’s South Side.

One thing that helped Parker escape the dangers of the Chicago streets was “The List”.

“The List” was composed of several different things that people had told Parker over the years.

"“It was all the things people were telling me at that time,” Jabari Parker said. “People called me fat, slow. They said, ‘He’s not going to be good.’ ” -Mike Helfgot, Chicago Tribune"

“The List” fell right in line with Simeon’s team photo from Parker’s senior season. During his summer travel circuit in 2013, Parker fractured his right foot and added 35 pounds after the injury.

The team photo was taken in November of 2013, five months after Parker broke his foot. To Parker’s displeasure, the team kept the photo, which actually paid off in the end.

After months and months of not being about to stay in shape and play basketball, Parker battled back from the injury and won his second consecutive Mr. Basketball award in the state of Illinois.

Mar 20, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) speaks during a press conference during practice before the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

“The (First) List”:

Jabari Parker was the first player to…

  • Start as a freshman at Simeon (started all four years, won four state titles)
  • Win Illinois’ Mr. Basketball award as a non-senior
  • Score 40 points in a game at Simeon

Not only did Parker become the first non-senior to win Illinois’ Mr. Basketball award, Parker would lead Simeon to their fourth consecutive 4A state title.

Does the guy lose at all?

(Parker was 118-15 at Simeon and 26-9 at Duke.)

I remember the first time I watched Jabari Parker play. Simeon was No. 1 in the state and they were playing Gary Lew Wallace (who coincidentally knocked out my high school in the Indiana high school hoops tourney the previous season).

Branden Dawson (yes, the same Branden Dawson who plays for Michigan State) was Lew Wallace’s star while Simeon was stacked with talent from top to bottom, including this freshman sensation named Jabari Parker.

Simeon dominated the game from the opening tip. Current Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn was lighting it up offensively for Simeon, while Parker was doing just about everything on both ends of the floor.

Although Parker finished with just nine points, he tallied five boards, blocked a pair of shots and had a couple steals. As a freshman sports nerd in college, I thought to myself, “Who is this Parker kid? He’s only a freshman?”

The ESPN announcers would not stop ranting and raving about Parker. Four years later, all the love being shown towards Parker was well-deserved.

During the Kansas/Duke game in Chicago from this past November, I was thrilled at the thought of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Gary Harris playing in the same building.

Specifically, I was happy for Parker. All I thought in the hours leading up to tip, “The hometown kid is home … and he’s going to put on a show.”

And he did just that.

Whether Cleveland, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, or even Utah (Parker’s family are of the Mormon community) that calls Jabari Parker‘s name on Thursday night in New York, that city and organization will be getting a future superstar.

Not only will Parker change the culture of some lucky city’s NBA club, they’ll soon learn what the city of Chicago already knows: Jabari Parker is special.