Tony Parker has absolutely no fear of flying. And it’s a good thing. Friday morning he was boarding a flight to Lithuania.
That’s nothing for him. This time last year he was bound for Argentina. It comes with the territory when one plays basketball on an international level.
Parker, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound rising junior at Lithonia’s Miller Grove High School, made the USA U17 Men’s World Championship team after a tryout in San Antonio, Texas, last weekend. Friday, he and his 11 teammates from all over America — click HERE TO SEE ROSTER — headed to Europe for two weeks of practices, exhibition games and world championship tournament play.
Team USA will practice on Saturday, play Russia’s U18 in an exhibition game on Sunday, practice Monday, play Lithuania’s U17 team in an exhibition on Tuesday, then head to Hamburg, Germany, for more practices before the tournament commences.
It’s a whirlwind tour. But Parker’s not complaining.
“It’s great to be going to another country and especially playing for my country and representing my family, my school and my community,” said Parker, shortly before boarding his flight Friday. “It feels like yesterday I was just flying to San Antonio for the tryouts. It all happened kind of fast.”
But it’s nothing new for Parker, who will be taking a break from his Georgia Stars team AAU to represent his county. Last year he went to Argentina as a member of the USA developmental team. All but two of those players make up the U17 squad that will be competing in the world championship tournament over the two weeks.
“It’s basically the same team as last year,” Parker said. “We have a lot of chemistry. That’s why we play so well together.”
Parker’s accomplishments have Miller Grove coach Sharman White absolutely busting his buttons.
“It’s just a credit to Tony for the hard work he has put forth his whole career,” White said. “I’m elated not only for him but for his family, our school and our community. I can’t think of a better representative for us.”
Meanwhile, while Parker is traipsing the globe, his college basketball recruitment remains on hold. It will probably come as no surprise to know that virtually every team in the country would like to have this well-seasoned and polished basketball player represent their school.
“I’m hearing from a lot of colleges,” Parker said. “But I don’t really have a favorite or anything at this point. I haven’t really had a lot of time to think about it.”
That might be the understatement of the year.
Parker said he has “narrowed” his list of schools to 11, including Georgia and Georgia Tech. The others are Alabama, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
Clearly, whatever school wins the “Tony Parker Sweepstakes” is going to get an experienced, polished basketball player.
“The thing about it is he’s getting better and better,” said White, whose Miller Grove team has won the last two Class AAAA state championship teams. “He works really hard with a personal trainer. He just wants to be the best. That’s his specific goal, to be the best player. He’s his biggest critic, so if he feels like there’s something he needs to work on, he works on it — hard.”
At this rate, best seems possible.