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SI features big-time recruit and his Mormon faith

Published: Wednesday, July 20 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Mormon Jabari Parker is one of the top high school basketball prospects in the United States.

SI.com

A highly recruited junior from Chicago is the subject of a Sports Illustrated article that addresses his Mormon faith, while a Kentucky baseball player has decided to put his career on hold to serve a mission.

Jabari Parker, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound junior at Chicago’s Simeon High, is one of the top basketball prospects in the country.

Parker is featured in an article by Seth Davis on SportsIllustrated.com.

Davis writes that before Parker plays a basketball game, he sits by himself in the locker room for a couple of minutes of prayer and reflection.

"I pray that God keeps me safe on the floor and that I'm able to have a good attitude toward my teammates," he says. When the game ends, Parker heeds that higher calling by rushing to be first in line to shake hands. "I just want to show the opponents that I'm grateful," he says. "I want to show good sportsmanship."

Although a junior, one college recruiter is comparing Parker to NBA star Grant Hill in terms of his body and style of play, “except Jabari is a better shooter.”

Parker has been spending the summer traveling and playing in tournaments. Last week he was in North Augusta, S.C.

Parker’s father, Sonny, played for Texas A&M and the Golden State Warriors in 1976. His mother, Lola, has raised him as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lola was born a Mormon in Tonga and emigrated to Utah with her family. She met Sonny when she was a student at BYU and he was playing for the Warriors. The two of them have raised all four of their children as Mormons on the south side of Chicago.

"Everyone thinks I'm so different, but it's a good different," said Parker, who attends early morning seminary. "My faith keeps me grounded."

Dallen Reber, a baseball player at the University of Kentucky, leaves Wednesday for a two-year mission to Santiago, Chile.

Reber’s decision to serve a mission was the subject of a feature article by James Pennington on catspause.com.

Reber was raised in a Mormon family in St. George, Utah, and his father and brothers all served missions. His family did not force him to serve a mission, and at age 19, when most LDS men file paperwork to serve, he moved to Kentucky to play baseball.

Reber struggled internally with the decision to go on a mission during his freshman year and at one point called his father to say he would not serve.

“Once I told my dad I wasn’t going to go, I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Reber told Pennington. “I just couldn’t keep denying it; I felt like I had to go, but I didn’t want to accept it, so I just kept denying it. It got to a point where I couldn’t keep denying the feeling.”

He called his father back to say he had changed his mind. After submitting his paperwork, he was assigned to labor in Chile.

Is he worried about his baseball skills?

“It’s hard right now to be away from baseball, but it was important to me … to be able to prepare and be ready to go on the mission,” he said. “That was important to me. Even now, I haven’t regretted the decision, but there are a lot of times that I obviously miss being around the game.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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