Is Jabari Parker ready for pressure that comes with SI cover?

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Jabari Parker’s already been tagged as the “next big thing” for some time now. The Chicago product and top recruit in the class of 2013 was the 2012 Gatorade national player of the year – as a junior – thanks to his impressive mix of size, skill and savvy.

Even better? By all accounts, he’s a humble kid, who stays grounded thanks to his family and faith.

Good thing, too. He’s about to earn a much-higher profile after this week’s Sports Illustrated hits.

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The “best high school player since LeBron James” places more than a little pressure on Parker’s 6-9 shoulders. SI reserves its cover for pros and the occasional phenom. (Bryce Harper was one a few years ago.) To associate his name with LeBron ensures everyone’s already high expectations for Parker rise even more among hoopheads.

Meanwhile, this is certainly the first time most casual fans will have heard of him. Some will shrug off the LeBron association. But most will automatically expect Parker to be that good.

(Not to mention the wrinkle that Parker, a Mormon, may leave for a two-year mission when he’s 19.)

It’s not quite the same loaded headline LeBron received (“The Chosen One”) but it’s plenty. Saying Parker’s better than Anthony Davis, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, John Wall, Derrick Rose (or take your pick of any other touted prospect since 2004) is a strong statement. Sometimes, the comparison backfires.

Hope Parker’s ready for it.

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