Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski made a rare in-season recruiting trip to Georgia to watch the big guy on Tuesday. Florida’s Billy Donovan and Georgia’s Mark Fox were in the stands at Miller Grove High’s basketball games last week.
It was just another day at the office — or in high-society recruiting circles — for Miller Grove power forward Tony Parker. The 6-foot-9, 270-pounder is one of the nation’s top college prospects as a junior, already boasting more than 40 scholarship offers.
Parker has lived up to accolades so far this season. He has posted double-doubles in seven of the eight games for Miller Grove (8-0), the two-time defending Class AAAA champion and the top contender to win it all again. Parker is averaging 19 points and 14 rebounds.
“You’ve got to consider Tony as one of the top candidates for Mr. Georgia Basketball,” Miller Grove coach Sharman White said. “He has got off to a great start this year and I think he still has plenty of room to improve, too. He hasn’t hit his ceiling yet. His best basketball is still ahead of him.”
It’s hard to imagine Parker playing better then he is right now. He went for a season-high 28 points and 21 rebounds against Mays. He also led the way to Miller Grove’s 71-61 upset over Milton, then ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA TODAY, with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
“Tony has improved tremendously since last year,” Milton coach David Boyd said. “He was no factor when we beat them [last year]. If he continues to improve, the sky is the limit.”
Parker agrees with the assessment, adding that playing with the USA U17 national team against the best players in the world and then AAU ball over the summer has performed wonders for his confidence.
How much has Parker improved? White goes as far to draw comparisons with former South Atlanta High standout Derrick Favors, who was a 2010 NBA lottery pick after spending one season at Georgia Tech.
“They are different types of power forwards,” White said. “Derrick plays above the rim. That’s not really Tony’s style, but I think he has better post moves, if you ask me.”
College scouts marvel at Parker’s ability to dominate underneath. When he gets the ball in the low post area, he uses his wide-body frame and strength for leverage against defenders and to clear out the lane. He has exceptionally quick feet and hands for his size, rendering him a mismatch for most opponents in high school.
“I feel like I’ve trained very hard and can use my strength to my advantage,” Parker said. “A lot of people are not going to be able to bang with me in the post for a long time. As the game goes along, I feel like I gain an edge.”
The only thing that has slowed down Parker has been injuries. He was sidelined with a high-ankle sprain and big toe injury toward the end of last season but returned by the state semifinals. This year, he is still not 100-percent after breaking his left wrist in a fall league game in September.
“Tony means business when he is on the court,” White said. “He is supposed to be like that. He is very competitive. Away from the court, he’s also one of the best kids in the nation. He’s like a big, old teddy bear. The college scouts love his game and his personality.”