Say this for Dai-Jon Parker. He’s not afraid jump on an air plane and go see some places.
Parker, a four-star shooting guard from Milton High School in Alpharetta, traveled the length and breadth of the United States to determine which college he wants to attend on a basketball scholarship. The five finalists in the sweepstakes to land this 6-foot-3, 180-pound athlete are as varied geographically as they are competitively.
Parker went to the Pacific Northwest to check out Oregon State, to the Northeast to visit Rhode Island, to the Midwest/Southwest to see Oklahoma State and to the Tennessee Valley to explore Vanderbilt. Oh, and then there was that 60-mile drive up the road to the University of Georgia.
“It was business, but I had a good time with it,” Parker said. “The best part of it is all the fine food you get. And, I enjoyed meeting all the players and getting to play ball with them.”
His favorite destination? Probably Corvallis, Ore. “The climate is really nice and the scenery is great,” he said.
After tonight, the only traveling Parker will be doing is the 94 feet from one end of a basketball floor to the other. He plans to announce his college choice tonight after the Milton-Roswell football game and before Milton’s second-annual “Midnight Madness” exhibition basketball practice.
“I thought it would be pretty cool to do it then,” said Parker, who averaged about 19 points per game as a junior for the defending state champion Eagles. “We had [Midnight Madness] for the first time last year and it was a lot of fun. I just thought it would be great to do it in front of may teammates and all of our students and fans.”
Georgia has made Parker a top priority. The Bulldogs want to pair him in a backcourt with five-star guard Kentavious Caldwell of Greenville, who is already committed. But coach Mark Fox has already been left at the altar on another Milton basketball star as power forward Julian Royal chose Georgia Tech over UGA a few weeks ago.
So where’s he going to go? Internet chatter late this week seems to favor Vanderbilt. Only Parker and his coaches (Milton’s David Boyd and Kenny Loyd of AAU’s Georgia Netburners) know for sure and neither they nor Parker are offering any hints.
Parker said he will have the hats and shirts of his five finalists on display but is not letting on much more about his plans.
As for the timing, it’s no accident that Parker’s announcement comes right before the season starts and about a week before the early signing period begins.
“I wanted to get it done early so I can focus on high school ball and enjoy the season,” he said.
With as many as six college prospects on the roster, Milton is expected to contend for a second straight state championship and will be in line for a mythical national title.
And for a few months at least, Parker will be traveling by bus.