- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Simeon Career Academy forward Jabari Parker, the nation's No. 2 senior, said Friday he will attend college rather go on a Mormon mission next year and that two local schools could have been options if it wasn't for coaching changes.
Parker previously mentioned the possibility of going on a mission. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently lowered the minimum age for going on missions to 18. Parker could have bypassed college, gone on a two-year mission and entered the NBA draft. He dispelled that scenario Friday.
"I know for a fact I'm going to college my first year," Parker said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000.
Where Parker will attend college is still up in the air. He's down to five schools, and has made official visits recently to Duke, Michigan State, Florida and BYU. He also plans to visit Stanford.
Parker said Friday that in-state schools DePaul and Illinois could have been right there as well if they hadn't made coaching changes. DePaul fired Jerry Wainwright in 2010 and replaced him with Oliver Purnell. Illinois fired Bruce Weber last season and brought in John Groce.
"I think (high school players are leaving Chicago) because people have dreams and they don't want them to be crushed by a little thing in college," Parker said. "Unfortunately, we as basketball players in Chicago leave and go and attend other universities.
"Like I said, DePaul, I put them on my list, and I was considering Illinois. The reason I took Illinois off was because I didn't know John Groce and his staff. DePaul, I really had a good relationship with Jerry Wainwright . . . Getting a new coaching staff just messed it up. The schools I picked, the coaches have been there a real long time."
Parker went as far as to say Illinois would have been on his final list if Weber was still there.
"They would," Parker said. "Me and Bruce, he's been recruiting me since seventh grade. He knows me probably more than any of the other coaches on the circuit right now."
Parker's college decision originally was expected in November, then was pushed back to December. He said Friday that it won't come now until January or February.
"If I want to make my announcement in the winter, I'm probably behind schedule," Parker said. "I probably would need to be doing a little more work. I'm getting lazy. We're focusing on the team. ... In the winter, January, February, that's when I want to make my decision because I want to focus on the run and state championship."
Parker and Simeon are shooting for their fourth consecutive state title. It's a feat former Simeon player and current Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose never accomplished, and that's important to Parker.
"Winning three state championships (is my biggest accomplishment) because I [compare] myself with Derrick," Parker said. "I just try to be there, so I can one-up him every time. He's been successful and hopefully I can make it towards him, so I can't talk right now."
Parker may be trying to eclipse Rose's run at Simeon, but he also looks up to him. Rose tries to guide Parker, too.
"When I see Derrick, he just gives me a little advice about college and making my decision," Parker said. "Yeah, the guy is a great role model to me and a lot of guys in the city because we come from the same neighborhoods in the South Side. Having someone to look up to is real big, in the NBA, too."
Parker was made to feel like an NBA star himself on his recent visit to BYU. The Cougars fans made him a "Gangnam Style" parody video and printed 6,000-plus T-shirts, reading "Chicago to Provo," which were worn during the BYU game he attended.
"It was crazy," Parker said. "Just hearing the video and the people with the T-shirts, it was a little bit too much for me at the time. But like I said, let's have fun with it, let's make it a good experience. I'm just thankful to all the fans for putting the time and effort for doing that."
Parker said the visits haven't exactly made him favor one school.
"It's made it a little bit more confusing because you fall in love once you get on campus," Parker said. "You get a lot of love and praise from the coaches, and they don't really tell you anything. It's important for me to tell who is telling the truth and not."
Simeon opens its season Saturday in the Chicago Elite Classic at UIC, but Parker will miss it due to a foot injury, which he suffered during the summer. He is unsure when he will return.
As a junior, Parker was named the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year, Illinois' Mr. Basketball and the national Gatorade Player of the Year. He averaged 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals a game.
He was ESPN's No. 1-ranked player until Andrew Wiggins reclassified recently from the Class of 2014 to the Class of 2013.
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