Today marks the beginning of the spring signing period for basketball, and schools across the country have long awaited the decision of McDonald’s All-American Tony Parker (Lithonia, Ga./Miller Grove). The 6-foot-9, 270-pound power forward has kept fans, coaches, analysts -- even his own inner circle -- guessing as to where he is leaning. Duke, Georgia, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Ohio State and UCLA have all been mentioned as contenders. But will they find out today?
As Miller Grove head coach Sharman White prepared to head up to Charlotte, N.C., to coach in the Jordan Brand Classic, an event in which his star big man is one of 22 participants, he admitted those programs, as well as their feverish fans, might have to wait a little bit longer to find out where Parker is headed.
“Tony is still in the decision-making process, and trying to make a clear choice,” White said. “What I am getting from his camp is that it probably will not be Wednesday. I am not sure if he will even make it during the game; it will probably be next week actually.”
The No. 26 player in the ESPN 100, Parker led Miller Grove to a 23-9 record and the Class AAAA state championship this past season, their fourth in a row. He averaged 16.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and three blocks per game. White feels that while Parker might be ready to announce there is a chance he wants to have one more big moment with his community before heading off to college.
“He might know his decision, but I am not sure if he will make it before he gets back,” White said. “I get the vibe that he might want to do it with his family and friends at home.”
The chance to stay close to his friends and family has also helped the University of Georgia stand out among the programs in Parker’s top group. As head coach, Georgia's Mark Fox continues to establish the Bulldogs as a team to be reckoned with in the Southeastern Conference, and he has made Parker a priority since he was hired in 2009.
Parker would give Fox a second McDonald’s All-American around whom to build his program, and the Bulldogs would provide the Miller Grove star a chance to be reunited with Wolverines teammates Brandon Morris and Donte Williams in Athens. Needless to say, the addition of Parker would put UGA on the map in college basketball, and would signal to future basketball prospects in the Peach State that Athens is a legitimate destination for elite talent.
But should the Bulldogs be considered a serious contender with the other schools in Parker’s top group?
“Tony Parker going to UGA might be a shock to the other schools or the people following his recruitment closely, because you are thinking they are competing against college mainstays in Duke and UCLA, but being around the situation, Georgia has had a strong pulse in this thing the whole time,” White said. “I do not think Georgia, or any school rather, would be a surprise.”
More unofficial visits have been rumored for the past few weeks for the undecided big man, but White is not so sure those will happen before his decision.
“I am not getting the vibe from his camp that he will visit anywhere again, but then you never know because it is only a 40-minute drive to Georgia, so it would not surprise me if he went back up there.”
Colleges are still allowed two calls per week to Parker, and White says that although all of the schools in his final group have likely been calling he is not sure of just how many have gotten through to the prospect.
The majority of the 2012 class is signed, sealed and ready to be delivered to programs across the country, but as one of the few still undecided, the national spotlight has long shined on Parker, who emerged as an AAU standout in middle school. Parker said back in eighth grade he did not want to rush into a decision, and that he wanted to enjoy the recruiting process. White feels that, with so many freshmen in college changing schools, Parker’s patience is warranted.
“Tony has done his research on each school and had great things to say about each program, but this is a hard decision for him, and he is trying to find the best fit,” White said. "When you are choosing the right college, you have to be as certain as possible so he can avoid being on the transfer list next year. You see that list become incredibly large now, and you wonder what happened. He does not want that to happen to him.”