May 28, 2012

Parker off to Evergreen State

Kevin McCarthy

Sometimes college sports seems like a mutual mercenary endeavor. You have a player who really doesn't want to be in school or is a short-termer before attempting to go pro somewhere and an athletic program happy to accommodate for as long as the relationship is beneficial on the field, court, diamond, track or pool. Jeffrey Parker of Salesian High and Lakeshow basketball, is the antithesis of the former, a true student-athlete, a winner plus an individual who will be bringing so much more to his basketball program and college choice.

photo of Jeffrey Parker

Come September, Parker is headed to Western Washington University (WWU), the current defending national D-2 champions who finished 31-5 this past season while enjoying the seventh D-2 tournament appearance in the past nine years. WWU is the third largest university in Washington and a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

A little scrutiny and you'll quickly notice there's this champion/championship thing that follows Parker around. He's headed to one while having just finished earning one with Salesian, this after the Pride also reached the title game when he was a junior. He also participated in a championship contest while at McClymonds High as an underclassmen. Call it a coincidence but that's usually means a one time occasion. Three appearances and it's definitely not simply by chance.

So what led the 6-foot-6 Parker to go with his choice?

"The coaches were great (Brad Jackson has headed the program for 27 years), I loved the campus (located on Bellingham Bay) and the environment, and the up-and-down playing style made it easy to see that I could play there," Parker explained.

What he will carry to the court is "a lot of explosiveness and dunks. I like to get my teammates involved and my goal is to be the player the coaches want me to be." He averaged 11 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots a game last season as a team player, demonstrating the ability to attack the rim as well as three-point shooting ability beyond the arc.

Parker prides himself on working to get better, displaying the character ethic that each day brings opportunity to be seized. He trains with Glenn Graham to advance his basketball skills and with Anthony Eggleton for physical development and wanted to thank both for aiding him in his achievement.

Here Lakeshow's Joe Fuca on his player: "Jeffrey came into our program last year and he was uncomfortable with the physicality it took to play at the next level. But he was a premier shooter and a good defender. After two to three weeks of heavy workouts, you could begin to see the change. He became a really tough player who can take defenders off the dribble and also shoot the jumper. Jeffrey has matured so much in one year that it is frightening. He can play three positions on defense and offense and he is a legit D-1 player who is going to the best D-2 team in the country."

But Parker's basketball participation is just a portion of his life. He plans to become a cardiologist so it's off to medical school once his time at Western Washington is completed. His major in Bellingham will be in behavioral neuro-science psychology "because I like studying the mind."

Asked how his friends would describe him, Parker said, "as a kind and polite guy, very respectful. I take my religion very seriously because my Mom and Dad brought me up to do that."

To a query regarding who he wished to thank, Parker said, "God first, my family, Coach Fuca who really helped in my development and all my coaches at Salesian and McClymonds, especially Brandon Brooks and Elijah Thomas."