Georgia’s top two basketball prospects need a little more time.
College basketball’s early signing period ends on Wednesday, and Miller Grove High School power forward Tony Parker told the AJC that he is “almost positive” that he will wait until at least the middle of the season to make his highly-anticipated decision between Duke, Ohio State, UCLA and Memphis. The late signing period begins in April.
Meanwhile, Southwest DeKalb power forward Shaq Goodwin committed to Memphis last week but will delay signing until April to “consider his options.” The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Goodwin also made an official visit to UCLA last month, and has UGA, Florida and Arizona in his top five. He will likely take at least two more recruiting trips, and even make an unofficial visit to Memphis again.
Parker, Goodwin and Shiloh power forward Robert Carter are all Georgia players ranked among the nation’s top 25 overall prospects. Carter signed with Georgia Tech over UGA and Florida last week. It is not uncommon for elite prospects to wait until the later signing period.
The 6-foot-9, 280-pound Parker has already taken official visits to all four of his finalists, including rumored frontunners Duke and Ohio State, and said he simply needs more time to reach his decision. “I want to study and research my schools a little more, watch them play some games, and get a better feel for each of the coaching staffs,” Parker said. “It’s a big decision. I thought I would take some extra time, and my parents agreed. I talked to each of the schools about it, and they’re all fine with me waiting. I will probably commit sometime during the middle of the season.” Parker said he does not have a leader among his finalists.
Meanwhile, Goodwin made the surprising announcement to commit to Memphis last week. He was expected to wait until after his senior season. “Shaq is committed to Memphis but we’ve decided to wait until after the season to sign the scholarship papers,” Goodwin’s mother told the AJC. “As you can imagine, this is a life-changing decision for my son, and we want to make sure that he has fully considered his options and done all of the necessary research before it’s official. He really likes Memphis, as does the rest of our family. We had a really good visit to Memphis, and we are very impressed with Coach Pastner, the team, and the university. Memphis is a special place. We are planning to make a trip back to Memphis for a regular-season game to experience the atmosphere and spend more time with the coaches and players. We want to make sure he feels just as good about everything at Memphis as he did during our first trip there. We also want to visit a couple of other schools for Shaq to have something to compare to Memphis. If my son feels as strongly about Memphis after the season as he does now, then he will definitely be a Memphis Tiger. We appreciate everyone’s patience and support as we finish the recruiting process.”
Why would a top prospect wait until April’s late period? There are many reasons. Here are four: (1) He may want to want to see if there are any coaching changes after the college season at the colleges he is considering. The assistant in charge of recruiting him may leave for another school, or the head coach could get fired or hired away by another team. (2) He may want to look at the depth chart after the college season to see if there are any transfers or NBA Draft defections which may affect his playing time. (3) He may want to visit the college during the actual season to get a better feel for the atmosphere, team and coaching styles. (4) Most likely, the player is simply undecided, or torn between a few schools, and needs more time to evaluate his decision – which appears to be the case with both Parker and Goodwin.
Doesn’t a player risk losing his scholarship by signing late? Yes, but highly unlikely with elite prospects such as Parker and Goodwin. Even if one school pulled a scholarship offer, there would be plenty of more willing to wait until the cows come home.
What about UGA and Georgia Tech? Parker made an unofficial visit to Georgia Tech, while Goodwin may take a visit to UGA. While both schools appear to be a longshot to land either player at this point, they shouldn’t be completely ruled out. Circumstances may change by the end of the season. Both UGA and Georgia Tech have scholarships open and will continue to recruit the 5-star prospects until they sign.
Parker’s Miller Grove team, the three-time Class AAAA state champions that are ranked No. 2 in one national poll, defeated Milton 75-72 in a scrimmage. Parker turned in a dominating performance with 20 points and 12 rebounds but uncharacteristically lost his composure briefly a few times after getting in early foul trouble. I honestly don’t think there’s a high school player in the country that can guard Parker in the post area. Against bigger players, Parker uses his superior footwork to create scoring opportunities. Against smaller players, Parker overruns them with his sheer bulk. Like many others, I wonder how Parker will match up with players equal in size and athleticism at the collegiate level, but he is worthy of all the prospect rankings in high school. Parker better get used to free throws because he is almost automatic to score when he gets the ball in the post area. It’s better strategy to simply foul him at that point. Against Milton, Parker showed a little bit of a mid-range game that is sorely-needed for college. Perhaps most impressively, Parker appeared to be in the best shape of his life – the baby fat has transformed into muscle. “I’m trying,” Parker said with a laugh. “I’m at 280 pounds. I was at 295 during the summer. We don’t have another game for 19 days. I’ll probably be down to 270 by then. I’m trying to get in shape like you,” Parker said with another laugh, pointing to a sportswriter.
What about Goodwin? His Southwest DeKalb team, which also features Auburn-bound guard Jordan Price, plays in a scrimmage against Class AAA state champion Columbia High School, which is led by Jarmal Reid (Oregon State) and Chris Horton (Austin Peay). The scrimmage is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Columbia.
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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