Down to his final five schools, 2013 forward Jabari Parker begins the official visit portion of his recruitment with a trip to Michigan State this weekend.
With concrete dates for his trips to Duke (October 26-28), Florida (November 2-4) and Stanford (November 9-11) and a trip to BYU (date yet to be determined) as well, Parker may have a good idea where he wants to attend college before the fall signing period.
But that doesn’t mean the Simeon HS product will sign a letter of intent during that period, as his father Sonny says that Jabari may wait until the spring to make it official.
Sonny Parker says his son might not have enough time to decide during the early signing period next month.
Sonny Parker says his son might “go on his first two visits and say, `Hey, this is where I want to go.”‘
The fall signing period is only a week long, running from November 14-21, so it wouldn’t qualify as a stunner if he were to make a verbal commitment but hold off on signing.
But here’s the question: for an elite prospect like Jabari how important is it to sign a letter of intent?
Here’s the NCAA’s description of the National Letter of Intent program:
The NLI is a voluntary program with regard to both institutions and student-athletes. No prospective student-athlete or parent is required to sign the National Letter of Intent, and no institution is required to join the program.
By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year.
Key word in the first part of the statement: voluntary. You don’t have to sign a letter of intent, but for the majority of prospective student-athletes doing so is the way to make sure they’re accounted for from a scholarship standpoint.
But for a player the caliber of Parker, wouldn’t it be wise to follow the recent example of Fresno State freshman center Robert Upshaw?
Upshaw originally committed to Kansas State but held off on signing the NLI, opting to sign the grant-in-aid instead. And sure enough after Frank Martin left Manhattan to take the job at South Carolina, Upshaw was able to de-commit without facing a penalty.
Upshaw did sign the NLI with Fresno State, but he saved himself a lot of trouble by not doing so during his original commitment.
Signing the NLI would get the recruiting phone calls to stop and the school Parker commits to would be able to formally announce his decision.
But outside of those two benefits (and the second one may not be much of a benefit as there will be plenty of attention paid to his decision), signing the grant-in-aid only would accomplish the same thing.