Tony Parker: Basketball star picks UCLA over UGA, others (UPDATED)

The AJC's Mr. Basketball is UCLA bound (AJC photo/Curtis Compton)

The AJC's Mr. Basketball is UCLA bound (AJC photo/Curtis Compton)

UCLA’s decision to hire a longtime Atlanta AAU coach has paid huge and immediate dividends with recruiting.

Tony Parker, the basketball star from Miller Grove High School who is ranked as one of the nation’s top 25 overall prospects, picked UCLA over UGA and Ohio State among his finalists, which also included Duke, Kansas and Memphis. Last summer, UCLA hired one of Parker’s former AAU coaches as an assistant.

At the end of Monday’s 57-minute commitment ceremony, Parker briefly toyed around with baseball caps from Georgia and Ohio State before revealing a t-shirt with the UCLA logo on it.

“I just wanted to go to a place with a winning tradition,” Parker said.

At UCLA, Parker will also be going to place with a familiar face. Last June, the Bruins hired Korey McCray, the former CEO of the Atlantic Celtics AAU team. While Parker has played primarily for the Georgia Stars AAU team over the years, he appeared in several tournaments with the Celtics. He has a tight friendship with McCray, who has trained Parker since he was 12 years old.

“Yes sir, I did want to play for Korey,” Parker said. “We’re extremely close. He’s like an older brother to me, and he has been looking out for me for a long time … I really thought if I went to UCLA, Korey could really develop me. He pushes me hard.”

At UCLA, Parker will also be reunited with his AAU teammate, small forward Jordan Adams, the former Central Gwinnett standout who transferred to Virginia’s Oak Hill prep school this season. Adams signed with UCLA last November.

UGA made gigantic gains over the last few months but it wasn't enough (AJC)

UGA made gigantic gains over the last few months but it wasn't enough (AJC)

Parker waited nearly two weeks after the opening day of the early signing period because he wrestled between signing with UCLA, Georgia or Ohio State. At one point or another during the recruiting process, Parker revealed on Monday that he had each of the three schools as his leader.

His mother went public with her support for Georgia earlier this month.

“Yes, I was in favor of Tony picking Georgia initially because Coach [Mark] Fox is one of my favorite coaches … I love that program,” said Hazel Parker.

“But I was fine when Tony decided on UCLA, or with whatever choice he made. And if I wasn’t pleased, I would’ve let Tony know … I’m going to miss him, of course. There will be lonesome days and all that good stuff. But if he was an hour away at Georgia, I would miss him, also.”

It was a heartbreaking decision for Georgia, which seemingly came out of nowhere to become a serious contender for Parker within the last couple of months. Two of Parker’s former Miller Grove teammates will be playing for Georgia next season, but it wasn’t enough to sway Parker.

“Georgia has nothing to hold their heads down about,” Miller Grove coach Sharman White said. “They were oblivious [among Parker’s favorite colleges] six months ago, even three months ago. They closed the gap in a hurry.

“Coach Fox and his staff should not hold their heads down. If I know Coach Fox, this will motivate him to not let another top player like Tony leave the state … Georgia did well, they made some big strides against some bigger schools that are more well-known for their basketball. I think Georgia should be proud of its effort.”

So much in life is about relationships, and UCLA assistant Korey McCray developed a close one with Tony Parker (Photo by UCLA)

So much in life is about relationships, and UCLA assistant Korey McCray developed a close one with Tony Parker (Photo by UCLA)

In the end, relationships played a big factor in Parker’s decision. He grew close with two other ULCA recruits, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, after playing with them in a couple of national all-star games recently. There was always the strong connection with McCray.

“Tony training with Korey all these years probably started the process of them bonding,” White said. “When it came time to make a big decision like this … for Tony to leave home and go across the country, there had be people and things that Tony really believed in and was really confident in.”

Parker, the AJC’s Mr. Basketball, led Miller Grove to four straight Class AAAA state championships.

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315 comments Add your comment

No PT

April 23rd, 2012
5:01 pm

Picks a AAU coach over a real coach. good luck with him…

Phuch Le` Duch

April 23rd, 2012
5:02 pm

AAU basketball … boy oh boy !

QueHefner208

April 23rd, 2012
5:02 pm

BigDawg

April 23rd, 2012
5:03 pm

That Dude...

April 23rd, 2012
5:04 pm

Parker better get use to Shabazz taking 20 to 25 shots a game at UCLA.

Dawgs of Anarchy

April 23rd, 2012
5:04 pm

What a self absorbed POS 59 minutes of ego-stoking, you will fit in well in southern California you jerk.

Truth

April 23rd, 2012
5:04 pm

Head west and don’t come back. You ain’t representing your roots.

JJ4Duke

April 23rd, 2012
5:04 pm

He’ll transfer after his boys bolt for the league.

bulldog steve

April 23rd, 2012
5:05 pm

At least now we are getting invited to the dance. Better luck next time.

UGAFOOTBALL

April 23rd, 2012
5:05 pm

He is overrated anyways…

BruceW1978UGA

April 23rd, 2012
5:05 pm

Sure wish I hadn’t wasted my time watching this. In about 10 years when nobody remembers you and you get a massive speeding ticket in GA – pay up. Nobody will care then. Ride the pine at UCLA and get some massive splinters in your a$$

The Truth

April 23rd, 2012
5:05 pm

Michael – I do not recall Tony ever playing for the Celtics unless it was as an 11 or 12 year old. As you can tell from the press conference, he played the last 2 years with the Georgia Stars and before that with the Southern Kings, both Nike sponsored programs. Tony’s AAU time before the Southern Kings was as relevant as Brad Pitt’s first TV appearance. No one really cared. IMO, Mr. McCray obviously had a relationship with Tony, but it was not as a result of him playing with the Celtics.

weliveforbasketball

April 23rd, 2012
5:06 pm

I wonder if it was a package deal.. Hire the Coach and T.Parker will come..
AAU just another term for legal muggings.

Truth

April 23rd, 2012
5:06 pm

So much for friends and family getting to watch you play. All those that supported you on the way up will have to watch you on TV. Shame.

Benadawg

April 23rd, 2012
5:06 pm

serious bullcrap, i am so sick of these kids that have no loyalty, go west see who cares, not me

weaseal

April 23rd, 2012
5:06 pm

You will miss home good luck on west coast …

Truth

April 23rd, 2012
5:07 pm

Turn your back on your state and run off. Nice work kid.

NorthGABulldawg

April 23rd, 2012
5:07 pm

Good bye and good ridance!!!

CC

April 23rd, 2012
5:07 pm

Basketball recruiting is a sketchy business. The AAU coach goes to UCLA and Tony follows.

LagDawg

April 23rd, 2012
5:07 pm

Good luck to Parker, but UCLA has all that talent and a coach that has underachieved since he has been there. I think it is time for CMF to bring in a AAU Coach to help in recruiting the state of GA. All this talent and CMF can’t bring in any top talent. Every top ranking recruit chose anybody but UGA. I did say elite recruit. Seems to me that he needs to concentrate on out of state players since the ones in Ga. don’t want to play for him. It is time for Fox to do whatever he has to do to make this and elite Basketball program like in the 80’s. UGA will look awful again with the lack of a big man in the midde. CMF, stop recruiting bean poles and recruit some beef.

Hugh Jass

April 23rd, 2012
5:08 pm

If he looked at the depth chart for big men at UCLA he would realize how dumb his choice was.

General Mills

April 23rd, 2012
5:08 pm

After that press conference I think hes ready for Hollywood .LOL .What a joke !!!

Promethius

April 23rd, 2012
5:09 pm

This is one time UGa fans are lucky that Fox can’t recruit to UGa. I would freak out if my coach woere recruiting that guy.

Loverboy shawty

April 23rd, 2012
5:09 pm

And AAU wins the match!!!!!:-/

CC

April 23rd, 2012
5:09 pm

Way to represent your state Tony.

te29wr

April 23rd, 2012
5:09 pm

Lets check and see who pays for his MOM to go the LA to see him play

AAU Hater

April 23rd, 2012
5:10 pm

AAU 1 Loyalty 0

LagDawg

April 23rd, 2012
5:11 pm

I really hope when he decides to transfer from UCLA that UGA doesn’t accept him.

nh gamecock

April 23rd, 2012
5:11 pm

Wow YOU DAWGS FAN REALLY UPSET????? I BEEN SAID HE. WAS OVERRATED GIVE THE KID A BREAK GOOD LUCK T.P.

SEC Basketball

April 23rd, 2012
5:11 pm

YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT HE WAS THE SECOND COMING OF LEBRON JAMES THE WAY THEY DRAGGED IT OUT. HOPE THE KID DOES WELL BUT I BELIEVE HE IS MAKING A MISTAKE GOING THAT FAR AWAY. HE SHOULD HAVE STAYED ON THE EAST COAST EVEN HE DID NOT GO TO UGA.

DDPO

April 23rd, 2012
5:11 pm

I believe Howland is way more proven than Fox…

Truth -

Using your logic, wouldn’t it have been easier for his friends/family to watch/support him if he had signed with GT or Georgia State? After all, it would be easier for the parties you just referenced…

Maybe he wanted to go with a program that puts people in the NBA, not the police blotter.

JD WEST

April 23rd, 2012
5:12 pm

Great selection TP, go west young man. UGA had nothing for you, damn the naysayers cause if it were a member of their family they sure would say NO to UGA also. Why waste your talent and be a loser, UCLA has great tradition and upline to the next level. You will enjoy the city also. Good luck to you.

nh gamecock

April 23rd, 2012
5:12 pm

LOL whinners lol he waited this long to pick ucla lol

The Truth

April 23rd, 2012
5:12 pm

For all you haters…UCLA will be in the final four this coming season. Tony will be one of the better big men in the NCAA next year, much like a Jared Sullinger. I can see him turning pro after his sophomore season. This kid is one of the most athletic big men you will see. He has a tremendous work ethic and will continue to get better in all facets of the game. Why not go west? Georgia is terrible, Tech is worse, why stay in the south? By the way, the 3 ring circus of a presser was a Miller Grove production, not a Tony Parker thing. This guy is as humble and sincere as they come. However, he will kick you a** in the paint.

Insider

April 23rd, 2012
5:12 pm

Enter your comments here

go dawgs

April 23rd, 2012
5:13 pm

i think we should blame miller grove for that terrible, self-centered, joke of an announcement ceremony. I refuse to believe a senior in high school would plan all of that, to pick his next school. with that said… good luck at ucla. what a waste.

Top Row Dog

April 23rd, 2012
5:13 pm

Good luck son. Wished you had come to Georgia, but good luck out in LA.

bob from smyrna

April 23rd, 2012
5:14 pm

Tech fan here, but frustrated that another GA HS star player has left the state. Tech & UGA should both have top 10 programs, and we’d have a fun rivalry in BB. We need to keep these players in state. Sorry UGA-Fox would have been a good coach for Parker.

DDPO

April 23rd, 2012
5:14 pm

te29wr -

UGA didn’t have a problem accepting Jarvis Jones after USC had paid for airfare.

Take off the white wig and quit judging.

oldbird

April 23rd, 2012
5:14 pm

Gee whiz folks, he is a high school kid. Good luck Tony, wish it had been UGA but did not really expect it to happen.

Redneck Hater

April 23rd, 2012
5:14 pm

I see from all of these redneck comments why the kids run out of the state of GA…you broke haters…that’s all..

te29wr do you even know his mom?? or your mom for that matter…stop it these are KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (WITH BRIGHTER FUTURES THAN YOU HAVE!!)

UCLA BAYBAY

April 23rd, 2012
5:15 pm

awww shucks, we suck.. lol bunch of WHINNING HATERS.. LETS GO BRUINS!!!

The Factor

April 23rd, 2012
5:15 pm

In our Pinheads and Patriots segment we have determined Tony Parker is, indeed, a Pinhead.

CreakyDawg

April 23rd, 2012
5:16 pm

Get off McCray’s back; he comes from outstanding B-ball stock (both parents), UCLA got a good young coach. Parker might’ve been better served at UGA, but I wish him much luck with the Bruins.

GABasketball

April 23rd, 2012
5:16 pm

First of all, the term AAU coach is laughable because the guys don’t coach. i feel sorry for the kid, besides being full of himself, sounds like hos parents have pampered this kid too much. He will be in for a rude awakening when he is on his own. Also, i agree with the last statement that he will have to get used to rebounding from Shabazz and not developing a post game. He will probably get homesick and try to transfer after a year, I hope we don’t take him then either. Kudos to CMF for being in the running with this primadonna but I would take another Djurisic before I take a Tony Parker that is loaded with arrogance.

Insider

April 23rd, 2012
5:16 pm

There are Tens of Thousands Southerners living in LA right now. As far as Southern cooking….we have it to. Southern Cal is a great place and Tony’s oppurtunities will be abundant and not just in Basketball.

Tech Man

April 23rd, 2012
5:16 pm

You better believe this was a package deal. Just like the Manning’s at Kansas some years ago. We’ll hire your dad as a coach if you come play with us. UCLA got two out of this one. Wait until the NCAA investigation begins. I’m a Tech man, but I sure would have liked to seen him playing for the DAWGS.

Jim 70

April 23rd, 2012
5:17 pm

The Washington post had an excellent series a few years ago on coach Gary Williams and his losing, I believe Rudy Gay to uconn, based on aau connections and hs refusal to recruit kids who played on aau teams.

I still wish the ajc would promote kids who attend ga schools, yes even uga, and downplay kids who want to go outa state.

intheknow

April 23rd, 2012
5:17 pm

nh gamecock….Funny I didn’t see Carolina in his list of teams…you think the reason is because the cocks finished last in the SEC and had to fire their coach kept them off the list?…I love it when idiots like you throw stones when thier own team sucks…makes you really look stupid…but you already knew that didn’t you?

A person SMART enough to know......

April 23rd, 2012
5:18 pm

FOX needs to try a cute little DREAM TEAM sales pitch like RICHT did with the football version EGO called CROWELL.

Hahah now the kid is not Smart enough, Good enough, or Humble enough for UGa?

Mutt Hypocrites.

He did just like CROWELL except he picked UGa with that Ugly lil Mutt on stage and you mutts ate it up like dog poo.