The new contact rules are here, and with them the implication that coaches will soon set out to overwhelm prep players with constant phone calls, text messages, Facebook pings, Twitter DMs, you name it. This doesn't seem like a sound strategy -- does "being annoying" really work as a recruiting tactic? -- but it's one we're sure at least a few coaches will pursue, particularly when they know they're competing against the best schools in the country for some of the country's best prep players.
But not Jabari Parker. The No. 1-ranked player in the class of 2013, whom Sports Illustrated called the "best high school player since LeBron James," has not given his cell phone number out to coaches, instead routing all his calls from potential recruiters through his parents first, Parker's father told ESPN's Scott Powers.
Parker remains off limits. His parents, Sonny and Lola Parker, do not permit college coaches to contact Parker directly. They must call or text them.
“Everybody doing their job, but they still can’t have Jabari’s number,” Sonny said on Tuesday. “That ain’t changed. We want him to enjoy being who he is. If he wants to talk, we’ll ask him first. Right now, we don’t want him to be over-bombarded because coaches can sometimes be aggressive, and that can be overwhelming.”
“It’s okay,” Sonny said of the new NCAA rules. “It’s how you handle it. Don’t get overwhelmed, don’t get caught up. They have to do their job. We’re doing our job.”
Parker's parents continue to form an impressive wall around their highly touted son, and it's hard to find fault with the strategy. Some teenage recruits may love to speak and text with college coaches constantly. Or they feel fine turning their phone off. Or whatever. But Parker is different. He's the most famous recruit in the country by a mile. He is the subject of coaching fantasy and desire from Kentucky to Coach K. Once he chooses a college and goes to school and gets drafted into the NBA -- all of which will happen in the next 24 months or so -- his life will never be the same. That's probably already true, actually. So why not let him enjoy it as much as possible ... without having to press "decline" to a thousand calls a day?
I'm not too concerned with the new contact rules for obvious reasons: When one does not want to talk, one can simply turn off his phone, or ignore it, or any of the five or six other call-avoidance strategies we've perfected over the years. Jabari Parker's parents are taking it one step further, in the hopes their teenage son can be a relatively normal teenager, if only for a little while longer.