Jabari Parker still considering Illinois under John Groce


Jabari Parker is the No. 1 ranked high school junior in the country.

There are many who believe he is the best high school player in the country, period. Regardless of age.

Parker happens to hail from Chicago, and with the focus that is required for the Illini to put on recruiting the city, it only makes sense that newly minted head coach John Groce would go after Parker. Doesn’t mean Parker is going to be all that interested, however.

“We’ve been pretty consistent in taking everyone’s phone calls,” Jabari’s father, Sonny, told ESPN.com. “In terms of recruitment, we’re open, but it’s getting late in the game. My son has to have a relationship with the coach. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s like getting married. You don’t say, ‘Let’s get married next week.'”

“I know Jabari knows the school, knows the program, has known Coach Weber since fifth grade and known Coach Jerrance (Howard) and Coach (Wayne) McClain. But we don’t know where and what direction the program is going.”

Groce just may have an in as well.

Groce just led the Ohio Bobcats to their first ever Sweet 16 this season behind the play of point guard DJ Cooper. Cooper is also a Chicago native and his family has a relationship with the Parker. Throw in the fact that Illinois is courting Parker’s high school coach and, well, you can see their recruiting pitch forming.

But it doesn’t guarantee anything.

“Whatever school he wants to go to, he wants to make sure he fits in whatever system they run,” Sonny Parker said. “Then, it’s also he wants to know the type of team, type of players he’s going to play with. The other part is development. The last part is he want to have an opportunity to win a national championship. Those are the things he wants to evaluate when making those types of decisions.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.