Chicago (Ill.) Simeon High senior Jabari Parker is extremely talented at basketball. This is not news. He has been the top ranked recruit in the Class of 2013 for just about as long as anyone has bothered ranking the Class of 2013, right up until Huntington (W.V.) Prep senior Andrew Wiggins reclassified into the Class of 2013 this fall and stole his thunder. Even if Wiggins stole a bit of the gloss from Parker’s spotlight, he didn’t do anything to diminish the Chicago native’s sublime skill set, which Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski fully intends to exploit come fall 2013.
In the meantime, Parker has appeared on magazine covers, in stories throughout the media far and wide (including here at Prep Rally) and generally received more hype than any prep hoops recruit since O.J. Mayo. In short, he’s a bona fide phenomenon. Now, some might say a bit prematurely, he’s even had his jersey number retired.
During Simeon’s senior night victory against Chicago (Ill.) Harlan High, Parker had his number retired in the school’s gym. His number 22 jersey was raised to the rafters alongside fellow Simeon senior superstar Kendrick Nunn, who has committed to play for Illinois. Parker and Nunn are the only players in the rafters who don’t have NBA experience or a legendary back story, joining Bulls superstar point guard Derrick Rose, Bobby Simmons and Ben "Benji" Wilson.
Incredibly, the ceremony came at halftime of Simeon’s 73-54 victory, an awkward injunction in an otherwise one-sided rout. Perhaps Simeon’s dominance was to be expected, even if Parker and Nunn appeared surprised to be honored with so much of their senior season’s still remaining.
"If Kendrick and I want to be remembered as two of the greatest players that have ever played at Simeon, we have to finish this year," Parker told the Chicago Sun-Times. "A lot of hard work and dedication has gone into this and we want to finish strong."
The question that will certainly be asked now is whether retiring Parker’s number mid-season will actually help push toward those rather lofty goals. For at least one night the opposition said it didn’t slow Parker down at all.
"I was very pleased with our effort and intensity,” Harlan coach Irv Bryant told the Sun-Times. “But they have Jabari Parker and he is a pro."
He may not technically be a pro yet, but his name and number are already up alongside them.
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