It is extremely unfortunate that both ESPN 100 No. 2 overall prospect Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon) and No. 4 prospect Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian) suffered injuries that will impact their senior seasons. There’s nothing more devastating for an athlete than having your senior season affected by injury.
In Parker’s case, he fractured his right foot in July while playing with Team USA at the U-17 World Championships and had been out of action since then, missing much of the summer and practice heading into the season. However, he made a surprise return to action for Simeon's season opener on Saturday, though he'll likely be limited while he takes some time to return to full form and get into game shape.
For Randle, the senior season prognosis is much more serious. He fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot in a game on Nov. 24, and the injury will likely keep him out the entire high school season.
He will have to keep himself engaged in basketball without playing the sport he loves and has poured his heart into from a young age. Like Parker has had to do the past several months, Randle will have to develop a level of patience you don’t find in many kids his age, but these two young men are special players and people.
Randle will now need to adjust to being with his team in strictly the role of a verbal leader and good teammate. He’ll also have a chance to submerge himself into his studies.
Fortunately for Randle, who remains uncommitted to a college, he’s an elite enough prospect that this injury won’t stop anyone from recruiting him. In fact, he can now dive into the recruiting process all season long. He can closely follow his final list of schools and observe the style of play and the coach simultaneously.
How will the college coaches chasing his signature treat his recruiting process now that they have their own games and he does not?
From personal experience as an assistant coach at Boston College in 1993, I was recruiting a young man named Antonio Granger from Detroit Denby High School when he broke his wrist in the spring. That summer I called him and followed his high school team in a summer league in Detroit, even going to his team’s games so he would know how serious we were about him.
When he made his decision the following fall to attend Boston College, one of the reasons he cited was that I showed up to his team’s summer league games even with him at the end of the bench and how that meant something to him and his family. Granger went on to be a 1,000-point scorer at BC.
Today’s new NCAA rules allow a coaching staff a total of seven contacts or in-person evaluations during the school year to see a prospect. So coaches from his six finalists -- Texas, Kentucky, NC State, Florida, Oklahoma and Kansas -- can show up on their day off and spend time visiting Randle, his mom, Carolyn, and his coaches. I suspect each staff that has a contact left will do so.
You might also see a coach take a day and show up to one of his games to sit in the stands and show him how important he is to their program. Even though he is not playing, it would be a sign of importance and another way to show how much they care.
Coaches may also ask Randle to take an unofficial visit to their campus since he has the time now. Randle’s family would incur the expense of an unofficial visit, but it would be another way to spend more time with him during the season.
Through this dark cloud in his career, the silver lining for Randle is that he will now have a great opportunity to study his recruiting options. And the coaches will recruit him even harder because he has more time to be recruited.
Recruiting never stops or even slows down, especially in this case.