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PROVO — It was no secret that one of the nation's top basketball recruits was going to be at BYU's basketball game Saturday as part of his official visit to the school.
BYU students and fans were very excited to welcome Jabari Parker to Provo and show him why he should ultimately choose BYU.
With Parker in the house, the Marriott Center featured its first sold-out crowd of the season and the student section was almost full. Considering it was Thanksgiving break, getting the Marriott Center full was a success for BYU.
Some independent fans raised money and gave away free T-shirts prior to the game. They read "From Chicago to Provo," eluding to the fact that Parker will choose BYU, leave his hometown of Chicago and come to Provo.
There were around 6,500 of these shirts handed out. They were popular in the student section with most students wearing them. However, even the older and younger crowds at the Marriott Center participated in the hype and sported them.
Fans anxiously awaited Parker's entrance in the Marriott Center with many children waiting by all entrances for autographs. However, BYU officials brought him in during the announcing of the starting lineups to not draw attention to him.
Parker sat with his family and other BYU recruits behind the BYU bench. He was also joined by cousin and former Cougar, Harvey Unga.
Many students made signs for the occasion reading "Choose the Y," "What time is it? Jabari Time" and "WWJD. What Will Jabari Do?"
During the second half, the student section started a deafening "Jabari Parker" chant, which soon the entire Marriott Center was participating in. While Parker did not officially acknowledge any of the chants directed his way, he definitely heard them.
With an intense finish and win for the Cougars, Parker was able to see the exciting atmosphere the Marriott Center can have and see a winning team.
BYU head coach Dave Rose acknowledged that when recruiting, winning is one of the most important things a school can do.
"I've always believed the most important thing (in recruiting) is that your team wins," Rose said. "If your team wins, you become an attractive item. When people can come and see how we win and the atmosphere and energy in the building, it is icing on the cake."
Parker's visit to BYU marks his last official recruiting visit. BYU fans will now anxiously await his decision and hope he chooses BYU.
Ashley Anderson is a senior at BYU majoring in public relations with the hope of one day having a career in sports public relations.