UGA appears to be in prime position to pull off one of the biggest recruiting upsets in the history of the school’s basketball program.
McDonald’s All-American Tony Parker has the Bulldogs among his finalists, along with Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, UCLA, Memphis and Georgetown. Parker is an Atlanta schoolboy legend, leading Miller Grove High School to four straight state championships in basketball.
The 6-foot-9, 280-pound Parker is ranked by ESPNU as the nation’s No. 21 overall basketball prospect.
Duke’s Mike Krzyzewksi is scheduled to be at Miller Grove on Thursday, and Ohio State’s Thad Matta may visit on Friday. UCLA coach Ben Howland met with Parker on Tuesday.
“My recruiting is going pretty steady,” Parker told the AJC. “My family and I are starting to narrow it down, really getting to the nitty gritty on picking a school and deciding which one fits me the best.”
Much to everyone’s surprise, that school may end up being UGA. Parker took an unofficial visit to both UGA and Georgia Tech earlier this year, but most considered the Bulldogs an afterthought with so many basketball heavyweights involved. While Parker claims no favorite, he made it clear this week that he’s seriously considering UGA.
“Georgia is a great school, and I think Coach Mark Fox is doing a great job,” Parker said. “They really achieved great things this year with the team that they had. I think it’s great that Coach Fox is ranked No. 1 in player development [by the website TheRealGM.com]. I think he does a lot for ‘bigs’ [big men], and he has a great offense for ‘bigs,’ too.
“When he had Trey Thompkins, Coach Fox did a lot of things for his game and made Trey look really good … Georgia has been in there the whole time with me. Coach Fox is a persistent guy.”
One of UGA’s biggest advantages with Parker is that two of his state championship teammates from Miller Grove will be playing for the Bulldogs next year: Swingman Brandon Morris signed with UGA last November in the early period and will be a freshman next year, while Donte Williams will be a junior forward.
“Yes, that definitely helps with Donte and Brandon being at Georgia; I won state championships with each of them,” Parker said. “They are both great people, and really good players. They both have great character, and playing with them in high school has been wonderful … so it really puts me in position to go to Georgia.
“All of us played under [Miller Grove coach Sharman White], and he instilled things in us like hard work, playing hard-nosed defense and being a team player. Those are things I will take with me for as long I play the game.”
If Parker ended up at UGA, he would be the first McDonald’s All-America at the power forward or center position to sign with the Bulldogs in 20 years – since Carlos Strong in 1992. The only other one to sign and play for the Bulldogs during the last two decades — at any position for UGA — was last year with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
What appeals to Parker about UGA?
“Coach Fox is really doing a great job with developing players,” Parker said. “They don’t really have a ‘big’ right now. Donte is always texting me about him playing out of position. I know they really need a big body down there, someone who can really bang and guard different ‘bigs.’ I know that’s what they need.
“That’s what they want, somebody who can get in the post, shoot and score consistently. They have really been pushing that with me. You’ve got Kentavious already there. Then with Brandon Morris, Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann, that’s a big and stout 2012 [recruiting class] class. Coach Fox thinks I would cap it off perfectly.”
Parker said he never took an official visit to UGA because it was so close – only 45 minutes from his home in DeKalb County. He saved his official visits for the far-away schools but has visited UGA several times within the last year, including a pair of games during the season. Distance could figure into Parker’s college decision, although he’s not sure how much.
“My thought on that is that I think I will be successful wherever I go,” Parker said. “I think for my family, UGA would be great. I think for the people at my school and for the people that support Miller Grove basketball, it would be great. You know, they would all only have to drive 45 minutes to see me play.
“They always talk about me going to Georgia and how they could easily come to my games. A lot of people in Georgia are really very much in favor of me siging with Georgia. But to me, distance doesn’t really matter. I know I will see my parents. My parents will come see me wherever I go.”
Here’s a few more questions for Parker:
What’s next for Parker? He will leave on Saturday for the McDonald’s All-America game, which will be televised by ESPN at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. Southwest DeKalb High School’s Shaq Goodwin, who signed with Memphis, has also been selected for the all-star game.
Parker considered making his college decision during the ESPN telecast but will likely wait and do it at Miller Grove in early April. The late signing period begins on April 11.
“I’ll probably wait,” Parker said. “We have such wonderful support at Miller Grove, and I want all my teammates, friends, family and classmates to be there. I want all the kids to come out and see that a lot of hard work and ambition can get them to a great point, too. I always want to give back to community because they’ve helped me so much to get to where I am now. I’m very blessed.”
What do we think? Mark Fox, who is personally handling Parker’s recruiting, deserves credit for UGA being a finalist because we never saw this coming. Has Duke ever lost a recruiting battle to UGA? With Duke and Kansas, you’re talking about basketball’s all-time elite programs. If Parker were to sign with UGA, it would send shockwaves around the nation. It would be a far bigger surprise than Caldwell-Pope, who always had UGA listed as one of his leaders. It would be a symbolic recruiting victory for Fox against the big boys on his home turf, and could create a lot of momentum for the Bulldogs with future in-state elite players. Parker is an Atlanta schoolboy legend and you can put his high school accomplishments – four state championships in four years – against Dwight Howard, Kwame Brown, Derrick Favors or any other basketball star from this state. We heard rumors all along that it would be Duke or Ohio State but we’re not hearing them loudly now. It projects to be a roller-coaster ride over the next three weeks to see how all of this unfolds.
What is your prediction? Do you think UGA really has a chance? Why or why not? What would it mean if Parker signed with UGA? Please post below.
MARCH MADNESS, WHAT’S THAT? RECRUITING MADESS!
WHILE YOUR BRACKETS GOT MESSED UP …
IT’S NEVER BORING IN THE WACKY WORLD OF RECRUITING
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
Note: Inappropriate BLOG comments and personal attacks will NOT be tolerated. We love the lively discussions but hate-filled, harassing and irresponsible comments are unacceptable.