Dick Harmon: BYU basketball recruits hang out in Provo with prep sensation Jabari Parker

Published: Monday, Nov. 26 2012 7:45 p.m. MST

Prep basketball star Jabari Parker, left, gets a good laugh during BYU's game Saturday.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

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PROVO — BYU wheeled out two members of its highly regarded college basketball recruiting class of 2013 to hang out with one of the nation's top recruits over the weekend.

Was it a good enough ploy?

BYU got its official shot with Jabari Parker this past weekend when the Chicago prep sensation made his official visit to Provo.

Parker met with 2013 Cougar basketball commits Eric Mika and Nick Emery, and 2014 commit T.J. Haws (all players at Lone Peak High), plus 2014 commit Dalton Nixon from Orem High.

BYU's 2013 recruiting class has been ranked No. 17 in the nation by ESPN.

Parker is very familiar with the Lone Peak stars who — when playing for a well-traveled Utah AAU team over the past several years — registered two victories over Parker's elite summer team from Chicago.

Parker is the 6-8 forward who is rated by some recruiting analysts as the No. 1 high school senior in the country. Since he broke his right foot while playing with Team USA at the FIBA under-17 World Championships in Lithuania last July, some experts have knocked him down to the No. 2 recruit in the nation. Part of that may have been the reclassification of 2014 Ontario, Canada, prospect Andrew Wiggins to the class of 2013.

Parker is expected to play his first game as a senior on Dec. 1 when his Simeon Career Academy plays in a national tournament.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parker has narrowed his college choices to Duke, Michigan State, Florida, BYU and Stanford. He has made official trips to all but Stanford to date.

This Thanksgiving weekend was his official all-expenses paid recruiting visit to BYU, although he has visited Provo several times in the past year before this official trip.

It's a time for the host to put its best foot forward. Show-off time. It's when a recruit can tour the campus, watch practice and get a real peek into the cradle of the basketball program, meet players and representatives of the school's academic program, make new friends, observe its fans, see what makes it tick, and generally have an experience to line up against other choices.

BYU did all that.

Nixon, who helped lead Orem High to a state championship this past winter, was impressed with Parker.

"I'd heard a lot about him," Nixon said, "but this was the first time I met him in person."

"We watched practice together, got to know him better and then sat by him at the game. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed my time with him."

High school juniors Nixon and Lone Peak's Haws are committed to BYU as the class of 2014. Emery and Mika, 2013 signees, are part of a 2013 recruiting class that includes Wisconsin's 6-8 Luke Worthington, 6-8 Idahoan Braiden Shaw, and 6-7 Jakob Hartsock from Oklahoma. Mika is listed as the No. 10 post player in that class and Emery is the No. 17 point guard.

Emery and Mika spent time with Parker before Saturday's game — Dalton did not. But all hung out in the locker room after that game and were around BYU players when they signed autographs.

Impressions?

"He is a very humble person," Nixon said. "I heard he was a really nice, down to earth person and that's my impression of him. Jabari was very respectful of everyone he met, and everything I'd heard about him was true. He was really fun to be with."

Nixon said Parker appeared to like his visit, liked Provo and the campus and had a good time.

"I'm hoping he comes," Nixon said.

As a junior, Parker was named Illinois' Mr. Basketball and the national Gatorade Player of the Year. He averaged 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals a game.

According to his family, after Parker's visit to Stanford, it is expected he could name his college choice as early as December or at the first of the year.

Another option is that Parker could put playing college basketball and the NBA aside for service as an LDS missionary for two years when he finishes at Simeon.

EMAIL: dharmon@desnews.com TWITTER: Harmonwrites

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