Do you remember hoping that you would get those awesome new sneakers for your birthday, but you got a two-dollar bill instead? You knew there was never really a chance, but you were praying that just maybe a miracle would happen. This was the same type of letdown Illinois fans felt when they found out that Jabari Parker left the University Of Illinois off of his list of ten possible schools to play for.
Now, the Illini must move on. In reality, the Illini had no chance at Parker. Their squad is mediocre at best and they just hired a new coach. This isn’t the type of atmosphere that the best player in the nation wants to be thrown into. That being said, I have some odd hunch that Parker is headed to Depaul.
I have no justification whatsoever for this rash statement, but something in my calcium-depleted bones tells me that Parker is going to Depaul. As we all know, Parker is a Mormon and he is very close to his family. This makes me believe that he would love nothing more than to play in front of his friends and family near home. More importantly he will still be able to attend the church in which he grew up and learned to play the game he loves.
Parker is unquestionably a one-and-done, so why not spend his last year, before hitting the big time, with his family? Illinois fans must tap into their short-term memory and delete any notions they held about actually having a shot at Parker. John Groce and his staff must now focus their energy and good karma towards new recruits.
Undoubtedly the most important recruit is Whitney Young’s junior center, Jahil Okafor. Okafor is 6-10, can run the floor and is currently the nation’s No. 2 ranked junior. The good news is that Okafor’s father told media that Jabari Parker’s decision to leave Illinois off his list would not affect his son’s decision.
Groce was a vital recruiting asset for The Ohio State University, where he earned recruiter of the year honors in 2006. He helped reel in Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook, three guys who helped OSU make it to the National Championship. Hopefully Groce can establish a relationship with Okafor and his family in order to get him in an orange and blue uniform.
Okafor returned home to Chicago this summer after taking MVP honors at the FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania. He earned the same honor that Jabari Parker did last year while he (Okafor) averaged 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds as he led the United States to an 8-0 record and a gold medal. The Illini have missed out on almost every top guy in Chicago the past few years and they must notch these types of guys if they want to contend for a National Title.
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