Jabari Parker keeping eye on Illinois
The family of Jabari Parker, who is the nation's top-ranked junior out of Chicago's Simeon Career Academy, is unsure if Illinois will remain among his college choices if coach Bruce Weber is fired.
Weber's job is thought to be in jeopardy -- Illinois is on the verge of not making the NCAA tournament for the third time in Weber's nine years. Jabari's father, Sonny Parker, said the family has developed a bond with Weber dating back to when Jabari began attending Illinois' summer basketball camps in fifth grade.
"It's going to very difficult to have a relationship right now," Sonny said if Illinois brings in a new coach. "This has been a 2-3 year process. Anybody they bring in, that's going to be very difficult to pick up where they left off in terms of where coach Weber was in recruiting. But you never know. You don't know who they're going to bring in."
Sonny, a former NBA player, said he recently reached out to Weber. Sonny was impressed Weber traveled to see Jabari play at Proviso West High School in the Chicago area just hours after Illinois lost by 23 points at Nebraska on Feb. 18.
"For him to fly to Proviso West from Nebraska to see my son and all he was going through, it really said a lot about him a person," Sonny said. "I've talked to coach Weber. He's still a person. He's a human being. He's a good coach. He's been knowing Jabari since fifth grade.
"We don't know what's going to happen with him. Regardless of where my son goes, we'll still have a relationship with him."
Sonny said playing for the hometown teams is always exciting. Jabari plays at the same high school that produced Derrick Rose, who is starring for his hometown Chicago Bulls. "You always want to play for the Chicago Bulls," Sonny said. "You always want to play for the state school, the University of Illinois. It's closer to home. He's developed a relationship with Illinois, but when the time comes to make a decision, he'll make the right decision for him."
The decision will be Jabari's, but his parents and Simeon coach Robert Smith will also have input. The Parker family isn't allowing anyone else in its recruiting circle.
"Right now with coach Weber, I think Illinois is definitely in the mix," Smith said. "I don't know if that's the case if he's fired. Illinois was one of the first schools to offer Jabari. I think coach Weber is a great guy. I think he runs his program top notch. You don't have to look for any scandals with him."
Sonny said they haven't talked much recruiting with Jabari during the high school season with Parker and Simeon attempting to win their third consecutive state title. He said they hoped to make a college choice in the fall.
"We're just going through the process," Sonny said. "There's no hurry. Right now, he's going to take the ACT again. He's qualified already, but he wants a higher score. We'll wait to see what happens in the Final Four. One coach may leave and another coach may come in. You never know."
Scott Powers covers colleges for ESPNChicago.com.
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