PROVO — Four hours before the BYU football teams kicks off with San Diego State in next Thursday's Poinsettia Bowl, the Cougar basketball program will be focused on Chicago, as high school hoops sensation Jabari Parker reveals his college choice.
Parker said Wednesday that he will make his announcement a week from Thursday, bringing to an end his high-profile recruitment that included a strong pitch from BYU, one of his five finalists.
Despite its faith-based connection to Parker, BYU is seen as the heavy underdog in the recruiting battle, and comments from Parker's father Sonny seemed to underscore the Cougars' status as darkhorse.
"I think it will probably be be between Duke and Michigan State. That's what I'm thinking," the elder Parker told USA Today on Wednesday.
Later, in the Chicago Tribune, Jabari downplayed his father's remarks, saying "No, that's not correct. I'm still considering all of them."
"I still have doubts, so I'm not fully there. But I'll have it by that day," said Parker. "It's just a commitment. It's not like I'm signing. It still gives me room to make plans in case anything goes otherwise."
Parker visited BYU on November 23rd and 24th--his fourth and final official visit, as he opted out of a trip to Stanford, a school he had visited unofficially on two prior occasions.
Parker's visit to BYU featured the orchestrated distribution of thousands of pro-Parker-to-Provo t-shirts; some students also produced a music video encouraging Parker to pick BYU.
"It was crazy," said Parker after his trip to Provo. "Just hearing the video and the people with the t-shirts, it was a little bit too much for me at the time. But like I said, let's have fun with it, make it a good experience; I'm thankful to all the fans for putting the time and effort for doing that."
I was told that Parker had plenty of family around him during his time in Provo, and despite any unease he may have felt as the center of attention, the visit went well for all parties involved.
Parker also spent time with local high school players who have already signed with or committed to BYU; he was pictured with Lone Peak HS stars Nick Emery, Eric Mika and T.J. Haws, along with Orem HS' Dalton Nixon, with Emery tweeting "Hoping we can get this kid to BYU...been a fun weekend."
MaxPreps lists Lone Peak as the nation's second-ranked high school team, right behind Parker's Simeon HS squad. In ESPN.com's Power Rankings, the Knights are ranked 6th, with Simeon again in the top spot.
Parker and Simeon play Texas power DeSoto Thursday night at 7:30pm MT on ESPN.
Lone Peak will have a national TV appearance in a game against Archbishop Mitty, January 21st at 10:00am MT on ESPNU; the contest will be played in Springfield, Mass.
Photo Courtesy: Ben Brewer, Deseret News