Class of 2012 power forward Tony Parker (#15) has long had a similar list of schools with Duke, Ohio State and Memphis leading the pack, but recently the reigning national champions have begun recruiting Parker harder which made him take notice of Connecticut.
Parker now lists the Huskies along with Ohio State, Duke, Memphis, Texas and Kansas and says Duke, Ohio State and Memphis make up his top three.
“They’ve been recruiting me the hardest,” says Parker of his top three. “They have great basketball programs and they have great basketball atmospheres.”
The 6’9, 285-pound big man talked about why he likes each individual school in his top three and what they’re telling him. “Ohio State has really done a good job with [sophomore center] Jared Sullinger and [head coach] Thad Matta did a job with Ohio State this year,” says Parker. “They just pitch the bigs they’ve had and what they’ve done with them.”
Memphis is also using one of their big men as an example of what they can do for Parker. “Memphis is pitching their style of play. They’re really doing a good job with [sophomore forward] Tarik Black, I think he’s going to have a big year this year,” adds Parker. “They are an up-and-coming program.”
Like their counterparts, Duke is using the same strategy and talks about a couple current NBA players. Says Parker, “Duke pitches [Chicago Bull power forward] Carlos Boozer and [Philadelphia 76er power forward] Elton Brand. Duke’s team’s always seem to succeed, they’re history is just really good. “
Another thing that’s important to Parker is a school’s coaching staff, and he says one in particular sticks out to him. “My favorite coaching staff is probably [Memphis head] coach [Josh] Pastner, [assistant] coach [Jack] Murphy and [assistant] coach [Damon] Stoudamire,” says Parker.
“Those are really player’s coaches. You can talk to them about anything, it’s just easier to have a better relationship with them because you can relate to them more.”
Parker has already visited Duke and Memphis this summer and Ohio State during the school year. “They were all great visits,” says Parker, “they all have great schools and really good coaching staffs.” He’s also interested in taking a closer look at Connecticut.
“I’ll probably take visit to UConn soon,” says Parker. “They’re starting to recruit me harder. It’s a pretty good situation with [junior center] Alex Oriakhi and those guys.” Parker also says he expects Oriakhi to start recruiting him soon since the two are close and UConn just started picking up their recruitment of him.
However, another elite collegiate big man is already recruiting him. “Jared Sullinger is recruiting me hard, he’s just telling me it’s a great school and he loves the atmosphere,” says Parker. “He says they’ve been great for him and he loves Ohio State and if he didn’t he would have left. He talks about how great it is to be a player there and what it’s like to be loved by the fans.
“It’s cool that I get to talk to Sullinger and Oriahki and they reach out to me. You take what you can from them and you listen because they’re at the school and you aren’t. You listen to everything they say.”
Two other players have been talking to Parker as well. “I talk to [North Carolina sophomore point guard] Kendall Marshall a lot but North Carolina isn’t recruiting me that hard,” says Parker. “[Class of 2012 shooting guard] Rasheed Sulaimon (#14) is always on my case [too]. He’s always pitching Duke to me, always. “
With all of these recruiting pitches from coaches, college players and other high school prospects, it’s important that Parker knows what’s he’s looking for in a school. “I’m looking for an all around good school,” says Parker, “that’s a good place to play basketball, has a good environment and is a good place to learn – academics are definitely important.”
He also knows what type of system he wants to play in. “I just want a good pace and up-tempo offense because I like to run the floor,” says Parker. “A team that plays hard on defense and is a scrappy team [is something I’d like to be apart of].” Parker thinks he knows who fits into that particular style best, too.
Says Parker, “Memphis probably fits it best, Ohio State fits it second-best and Duke is probably last. Of course UConn fits perfect.”
Another thing that has affected Parker’s recruitment is the coaching carousel going around in college basketball. “The Bruce Pearl firing was big,” says Parker, “they were in my top three before that happened. Now they’re low on my list.”
Although he has been rumored to be close to a decision, Parker says that he has no timetable for his commitment and doesn’t know when he will make his decision.
*Related content: Tony Parker Interview
*Both photographs courtesy of Daryl Paunil, National Recruiting Spotlight’s photographer.