In July, Jabari Parker -- top recruit in the class of 2013, Sports Illustrated cover boy, and a prospect talented and academically capable enough that he could pick just about any school in the country -- didn't seem all that eager to narrow his decision down. He included a whopping 10 schools on his list, which is a big number even by modern recruiting standards.
But on Friday, Parker made the first significant cut to his potential collegiate destinations of his recruitment. And I have to admit -- I was somewhat surprised. From ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers:
Simeon Career Academy (Chicago) forward Jabari Parker, the nation's No. 1-ranked senior, cut his list to five schools Friday: BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford.
Parker in July had revealed a list of 10 schools he was considering, which included DePaul, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.
[...] "He thought about it and looked at the programs. That's the five he had," Simeon coach Robert Smith said Friday. "It took him a long time to find. Everyone was really good, but he had to make a decision. He really respected everyone recruiting him and wanted to thank them for their time. He knew he couldn't make everyone happy."
You may notice, among the dispatched schools, are three of the country's top recruiting outfits over the past five years: Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina. Leaving any one of these schools off the final list would have been somewhat surprising; to see all three of them bite the dust is downright shocking. That goes double for Kentucky. Parker is the best player in his class, and John Calipari has signed the past two players (Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel) that shared that distinction.
Moreover, on Thursday he landed commitments from the Harrison twins, which caused me to remind everyone just how dominant the dude is on the recruiting trail, and how his post-national-title pitch is even more difficult to resist. Combine that with Parker's roots -- Calipari has recruited Chicago very well, and has connections to Parker's Simeon High School through Derrick Rose, and so on and so forth -- and I think it counts as a general shock to not see Kentucky involved here. Maybe I'm behind the curve on that; maybe Kentucky fans are long since over Parker. But it does feel unusual.
In any case, Parker has five very good choices still in front of him -- this is the benefit of being very, very good at basketball -- and he can't really go wrong whatever he chooses, because chances are he'll be in the NBA after his first season no matter what. According to Powers, Parker will start official visits soon and plans to commit in November. And so five very nervous fan bases, having just celebrated their inclusion in a final cut, begin fretting anew. Ah, recruiting.