Say this for Tony Parker: The man doesn’t mind traveling for his hoops.
In the last three weeks, the 6-foot-9 rising junior at Miller Grove High has played basketball in Texas, Lithuania and Germany. When he finally stepped off a plane in Atlanta at 3 a.m. Tuesday — fresh off the USA U17 team’s gold-medal run in Europe — he went straight to North Augusta, S.C., where he played two games yesterday afternoon at the Peach Jam with his AAU team, the Georgia Stars.
Understandably, he was a little jet-lagged.
“Yeah, I was, but I did pretty well,” Parker said. “I had a double-double.”
Parker will continue to hoop it up for three more days at the recruiting showcase tournament in North Augusta before finally heading home and sleeping in his own bed on Saturday.
It’s a moment he’s been looking forward to.
“I miss home a lot, I really do,” Parker said. “I’ve been homesick for a while. But I’ve been having fun, too.”
Parker and the U.S. team had a blast. They went 8-0 in the FIBA World Championships in one of the country’s most dominant international performances in a while. The Americans defeated Poland in the gold-medal game 111-80. It represented the sixth time they jumped the century mark.
Individually, Parker averaged 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds while backing up two frontcourt positions. His best game was in the preliminary rounds when he had 11 points in a rout of Serbia.
“I did pretty well; I played my role,” said Parker, who averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds on Miller Grove’s Class AA state championship team last season. “My job was to rebound and play defense. I didn’t get that much playing time. But I played hard whenever I got in and I had a good time.”
The stars for the U.S. team were Brad Beal of St. Louis, who averaged 18.8 points and was named MVP, and James McAdoo of Norfolk, Va., who averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds.
For Parker, it wasn’t about points and rebounds. It was about learning and experiencing. He talked about having to negotiate the language barriers and adjusting to the unique FIBA rules and playing style.
None of which was new to Parker. He traveled to Argentina with the Team USA a year ago.
I asked Parker if he planned to settled down and take some time off after his international hoopfest.
“Yeah, I’m gonna chill out at home Saturday,” he said. “But then I’ve got a workout on Sunday.”
Well, at least that will be in state.