Simeon junior Jabari Parker has stated he has one individual goal for his high school career -- to be considered the best player to ever come out of Chicago.
That's a lofty aspiration considering some of the names to come out of his hometown, including former Simeon star and NBA MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. In fact, Parker has said comparisons to Rose help fuel his dedication.
If the awards given to Parker this season are any indication of his status, Parker appears to be aligned directly with his goal after three high school seasons.
Parker added one more honor to his 2011-2012 season on Thursday as he was named the Gatorade National Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. He was the fourth underclassman to receive the award, joining LeBron James, Greg Oden and Brandon Knight in that honor.
In all, Parker was named Team USA’s 2011 Male Athlete of the Year, Illinois’ Mr. Basketball, Illinois’ Gatorade Player of the Year and the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year. He was the first underclassman voted Illinois’ Mr. Basketball since the award began in 1981.
“I’ll always have the hunger to work and improve my skill set,” Parker said recently. “I’m driven by seeing a lot of players in the NBA. That’s my goal. I just want to be a record-breaker and win a lot.
“Being compared to Derrick also drives me. I know if I get better than him or break the records he broke I could be one of the best players to come out of Chicago. I look forward to being one of those players.”
Parker, who is considered the No. 1 junior in the country, averaged 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals this past season. He helped Simeon to its third consecutive state title.
“He’s one of the top 5 players to ever play in the state of Illinois right now,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “It drives him. He wants to be better than Derrick. That’s his ultimate goal.”
Rose recently gave Parker advice, and it wasn't necessarily to follow in his footsteps.
"Stay patient," Rose said. "His work ethic is definitely up there. I wish him nothing but the best, but remain humble and be himself."