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Jabari Parker tabbed as prep basketball player of the year

Published: Wednesday, March 20 2013 11:25 a.m. MDT

FILE - This March 9, 2012 file photo shows Simeon Career Academy's Jabari Parker (22) drives to the basket past an unidentified Marist High School player during an Illinois state sectional championship game in Summit, Ill. The prized prospect is to announce his college choice at a news conference at his high school, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Charles Rex Arbogast, AP

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Almost exactly three months after picking Duke over BYU (among other programs), Cougar fans were reminded this week of what they almost had: the best high school player in the country.

That, at least, was the verdict given in the form of the Morgan Wootten Male Player of the Year award, which focuses more on the recipient's character than on-court skills. The honor is given to the player that "demonstrates outstanding character, exhibits leadership and exemplifies the values of being a student-athlete in the classroom and the community."

Of course, that player must also be a McDonald's All-American, making the award much more than a pat on the head of an average player who happens to be a great guy.

BYU is far from poor in the recruiting department, having snared ESPN Top 100 members Nick Emery, Eric Mika and T.J. Haws from nearby Lone Peak high school. Dalton Nixon of Orem is also committed to donning BYU blue.

Yet, LDS missions and different graduating years are likely to throw an unconventional wrinkle in the Cougars' latest catch of talent. Emery is slated to depart for two years to Germany this summer, while Mika will play his freshman year before his own two-year commitment.

Haws, younger brother to returning All-WCC first team honoree Tyler Haws, and Nixon graduate in 2014. They will have their own mission plans to consider.

With no two timetables the same amongst the recruits, it is doubtful the elder Haws will have the benefit of playing with the entire cavalry before his own college career is over.

Such a scenario made Parker an even more tantalizing possibility. Also a member of the LDS Church, Parker had already announced his decision to forego a mission, committing to college basketball without interruption. Had he chosen BYU, it would have provided the program its biggest jolt of national attention since the Jimmer Fredette era, as well as given Haws immediate help to ease the loss of All-WCC first teamer Brandon Davies.

Instead, Parker picked Duke's shade of blue over that of BYU, a decision not many could fault given the pedigree of the program itself and that of head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Matt Petersen is the Sports Web Editor for DeseretNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheMattPetersen.

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