Jabari Parker was reflecting Friday on a high school career that is nearing its final month, and it was a good week for such an examination. Simeon knocked off nationally ranked foes Oak Hill and Young last week and retired the jerseys of Parker and teammate Kendrick Nunn.
The Duke-bound Parker took some time after his number was retired to talk about his father's influence, his faith and a surprising dream job for one of the nation's top-ranked basketball players.
What does it mean to you to have your jersey retired?
It was very special for me because I've been here four years, to cap off my career so far. It's been good but it's also unsatisfying because I haven't finished what I need to do.
First basketball memory?
I was 5 or 6 years old at the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club, watching my dad (Sonny Parker) and his summer league. Me playing at halftime. That was one of my earliest memories when I had a love of the game, when I really enjoyed it. Just shooting around.
Biggest influence in your basketball career?
My dad, just his example and his role that he plays in my family. And also what he's done. It gives me an extra boost to try to make him proud and get to where he was, which was being on the top.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I don't like individual awards because it always takes a team to get those honors. Our state championships we got here, they came from hard work and dedication and blood, sweat and tears. It wasn't just me that was out there. It was everybody else contributing.
Best opponent you've played?
Julius Randle, of those in my age group. He's always on attack, constantly on attack. And he's strong.
I always pray before the game. I have a big-time belief in that. It just gives me that extra boost, the confidence, the faith that I'm going to play and be safe. I know at some points I'm afraid of getting reinjured, but with my faith in God, he helps me to endure.
And you lead the team in a prayer too?
Yeah, it's my first year doing it.
You talk about your faith a lot. How do you make that a part of your everyday life?
More than anything it's service. I want to always serve other people. It could be the youngest guy in the gym that looks up to me or the oldest fella. I just want to be there for them. I try to work on that now, even though I get caught up in myself sometimes, trying to get back to what I need to do. But I also have to realize there have been people that have been following me and supporting me, so I have to give them a little love too.
Any younger players on the team you've tried to take under your wing?
D.J. (Williams). I see a lot of potential in D.J. Edward (Morrow) is always going to be good because of his work ethic. But I want D.J. to be just as good as me because I see a lot of similarities in his game. … He's starting to get it.
Food: Italian food or any kind of sandwiches.
Movie: "'How the Grinch Stole Christmas.'"
TV show: "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" or "Family Matters."
Book: "My Antonia" by Willa Cather.
Class: Probably art. I love spilling my creativity on paper. I just draw. I've been doing a lot of doodling in my classes, but there I can just get it out.
Team: Boston Celtics.
Player: Kobe Bryant.
Dream job: Work at a zoo. I love animals. I don't (visit often), but when I do I'm like a kid at a candy store. They can't move me out of the exhibits. … I like the tiger (as a favorite animal).
Three people you'd like to have dinner with: John Wooden, Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Russell.
Hobbies outside of basketball: Sleep. I love sleep. I find sleep to be a hobby.
Best memory at Simeon?
Every year before the season we have the prelude for Nike. They usually cater us food. That's one of my favorites because it brings together our team. All of the hype, we forget about that and just have fun as a team."
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