- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Hall of Fame point guard and Chicago native Isiah Thomas said Tuesday he recently had an opportunity to pass on some recruiting and off-the-court advice to Chicago Simeon forward Jabari Parker, the nation's No. 2 senior.
Thomas recently spoke with Parker when Thomas was the keynote speaker for a dinner prior to the Chicago Elite Classic. Thomas, who starred at St. Joseph High School before winning championships with Indiana and the Detroit Pistons, told Parker his college decision had to be about more than the basketball aspect.
"Pick a school that you will be comfortable with the campus," Thomas said by phone on Tuesday. "You're going to be in the gym 2-3 hours a day. The other 21-22 hours you spend on campus. You got to make sure you enjoy the campus more than the gym."
Parker's final list of schools are BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford. He's made official visits to all the schools except for Stanford. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that Parker will announce his decision on Dec. 20.
Thomas also talked to Parker about more than just basketball. It's something Parker's father, Sonny Parker, a former NBA player, used to do with Thomas when Thomas was a youngster in Chicago.
"It's the same (advice) his father would give to me," Thomas said. "Whenever his father would come home from the summer when he was playing with Golden State, he never asked me about my jump shot; he never asked me about my crossover dribble and my between-the-legs dribble. He only asked me about grades, how I was doing in school and if I needed something to eat.
"That's what I try to emphasize to Jabari. Being the leader in basketball and being the leader in the community, kids are looking up to you. You have a responsibility for the kids to see you in their future in the right way. It's not just about basketball. It's about making an impact through education and basketball."
Thomas also talked with Whitney Young center Jahlil Okafor, who is the No. 2 junior in the country, and was especially impressed by the drive of Parker and Okafor.
"When you look at Okafor, when you look at Parker, those kids are trying even though they have carved their name in Chicago high school basketball history," Thomas said. "But talking to them and being around them, they still feel like they're striving and trying to do so much more to improve, which is great."