When ESPN.com’s current No. 1 high school basketball recruit Andrew Wiggins reclassified from the 2014 to 2013 graduation year, Jabari Parker was knocked to the No. 2-national ranking.
The BYU Cougars don’t mind the drop, that’s for sure.
Parker, out of Simeon High in Chicago, was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in his junior year, and while all the regulars are on his final list (Florida, Duke, etc.), the fact that BYU has made the short list of schools he is considering for a scholarship has fired up the Cougars’ fan base.
That might even be an understatement.
Two superfans, Greg Welch and Tony Brown, wanted to create t-shirts that read “Chicago to Provo” to try to impress someone who would arguably be the biggest recruit the school had ever welcomed on campus. They have a Twitter account and a blog, and on both they implored BYU fans near and far (Welch lives in Iowa himself) to donate to the cause of having the shirts printed and handed out to fans when Parker visits the school.
“I have a Twitter account, a few blogs like any crazy fan has these days, and the community I’m involved with thought, ‘What can we do to roll out the red carpet for him?’ ” said Welch. ” ‘What can we do to add to the excitement when he is here?’ Our goal is for there to be electricity in the building and (Saturday) night is a special environment.”
“I thought we would have a hundred of the shirts,” said Welch, who will be handing out T-shirts from a U-Haul truck on private property across from BYU’s Marriott Center. “The way the Internet and social media works these days, if something catches fire, you don’t know where it’s going.”
Parker is a Mormon, which is, admittedly, why BYU was on Parker’s radar in the first place.
However, since that time, Parker has really begun to warm up to the prospect of taking his talents to Provo. His father, Sonny, was asked what the real chances were of BYU hauling in a recruit at the caliber of his son, and the elder Parker was not shy.
“Remember he belongs to the Church of Latter-Day Saints,” Sonny said. “They got one of the winningest programs in the last 4-5 years if you look at their record. They average 25 wins a year. They don’t get the recognition of others. Their conference isn’t that bad. Remember they had the player of the year in Jimmer Fredette. They have a real good program.”
The t-shirts may just be the type of thing that pushes BYU over the top. At least, that’s obviously how the two die-hards see it. However, they are not alone among Cougar Nation.
The shirts were printed on the power of 200 donations to CougarBoard.com.
You just can’t make this stuff up.
Quotes from ESPN were used in this report.
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