A fearless 3-point assailant and maniacal, devoted gym rat under the late and legendary Jack Curran at Molloy, Mark Parisi should be a role model for the city's youth and basketball community. He has the presence and the know-how to become a community pillar-type in New York, where basketball is akin to bloodsport.
Beyond his play on the court, beyond the fact that Parisi overcame staggering odds to ultimately discover his path to a Division-I scholarship at LIU-Brooklyn, Parisi exemplifies excellence in the classroom.
Undersized as a 5-foot-11 combo guard, Parisi has long been laser-focused on outworking everyone in the gym. He's packed muscle onto a once spindly frame and evolved into a scorer at all three levels, enhancing each category of his game through time and becoming a sturdy, ball-hawing defender in the process.
Parisi shouldered a high-order commitment to constantly bettering himself at his craft on the court while simultaneously pouring sustained relentlessness into his classwork. His no non-sense attitude and approach to life is commendable, an act that others should be willing to ultimately simulate.
What makes him any different than other high-academic kids who have prolonged their careers at Ivy League schools and highly competitive Universities?
Parisi is quiet by nature, albeit he possesses a fearless confidence and charisma about himself and an ability to connect with people.
Due to these particular attributes, which register high on the RIchter Scale which gauges the real world, we should envision him as someone who sets the bar high for others.
His image should be that of a role model for the city's youth.
He has the unparalleled maturity to become a leader in the basketball community, a presence one on whom the city's youth will lean for constant advice and motivation.
Long range shooting ability is Parisi's calling card and what enabled him to ascend the ranks to the Division-I level.
You will be hard-pressed to find any sharpshooter capable of outdueling him in a 3-point contest, NBA 3-point contest, or a free throw contest. His vertical has increased rapidly.
He's now throwing down authoritative, ferocious dunks with two hands and finishing through traffic with regularity. He's also not your prototype "groupie" basketball player, who keeps tabs on other players throughout the city and aspires to earn a spot on rankings systems and player evaluations. Composed and never enamored with personal statistics or individual accolades, one could best describe Parisi as a basketball old soul.
He rarely played at age-appropriate levels and doesn't have the same distractions that our technology and social media crazed world creates these days. Plus this kid actually looks you eyeball to eyeball when he shakes your hand, very much a throwback caliber kid.
After interning with the Brooklyn Nets this past season, Parisi gained first hand insight and knowledge on the requirements of the NBA front office lifestyle. Parisi is a role model because he is cognizant that preparation and commitment are two vital tools in life. Whether he goes on to play professionally or not, he is able to envision a life beyond basketball.
He has mapped out goals and life aspirations beyond basketball, which is what many of today's youth need to do in order to prepare themselves for the demanding rigors of the real world. Parisi is a classic case of a student-athlete who understands his responsibilities.
Again, every professional is faced with the harsh and unforgiving reality that their career will likely be over before they know it. It is more than likely that their career will be over on someone else's terms.
It is an honor and perhaps an unrivaled privilege to be a professional athlete, but very few are capable of sustaining the test of time beyond 12-15 years (at most) in the pro ranks. What separates Parisi from other athletes of his type is he acknowledges the challenges that come with assimilating to the real world.
He's well aware of the challenges both he and his peers will face one day, even if they do go on to pursue a professional basketball career. It is a reality not all of our kids are prepared for one day. As parents and coaches and mentors, we need to do a better job of preparing kids for the inevitable rude awakening that is life.
At LIU, he garnered a 3.9 GPA as an accounting and finance major.
All signs point to him attending Syracuse should he continue his education past undergraduate.
A high school All American and Max Preps Player of the Year as a hot-shooting, deft-passing 5-foot-10 combination guard in Virginia, Parisi has had nothing handed to him. Everything he has attained in his athletic and academic career he has had to go out and take the old fashioned way: through a gritty and infallible work ethic.
In today's age, too many of the city's youth see basketball and only basketball as the be-all, end-all of human existence. They are consumed by this whole notion of going to college and becoming a hotly pursued NBA draft prospect, eventually following the long green paper trail to the professional career. They seem to be under the impression cash will just fall from the sky and spending and managing their money won't be a concern.
Parisi, who has a major interest in finance and is already well-versed on the challenges that come with money management, likely won't entertain any issues with this.
Because he understands money and because his academics are predicated on numbers and how they relate to business, he is ahead of his class in this particular department.
These kids today do not take academics seriously enough and do not take into consideration the value of an education or a free education. They see college as merely a stop on their way to the league or a prosperous career in the NBA or over the waters. Too often, young players fail to acknowledge the power of education and most importantly the potency in using basketball as a major tool in garnering a free (or tremendously cheap) education.
Parisi is a different breed because he understands how ton commit himself to all of the important, fate-dictating components of life. He has a certain maturity and business-like professionalism at his age, a type of approach that others should emulate.
While entertaining lofty aspirations to play professionally are ambitious and admirable, student-athletes must be better schooled on just how well they prepare for this route.
Ultimately, student-athletes must be more in tune with the reality that you can't play professional basketball forever. Sooner or later, the ball will deflate on you and you will be tasked with finding another path to pursue.
There's no escaping this reality. Because of this, aspects such as money management and storing your money are critical.
The reason Parisi sets an example for others to follow is because he holds himself to a high standard.
He is already preparing to take on the unforgiving rigors of life in the real world. He has no illusions regarding life after basketball.
The hot-shooting guard realizes basketball is not the be-all, end-all of human existence as some of these kids are trained to believe.
In making a sound decision about future possibilities, you must be smart and alert. You cannot become too enamored with the prospect of playing professionally in a far and away country where you are a potential target.
Because Parisi is adept at understanding the business world, because he has this aforementioned 3.9 GPA, he can potentially guide others who may be misled.
Currently, Long Island University is starting the 2016-17 campaign with an entirely new backcourt. One guard even bolted for the professional ranks overseas, reneging on his commitment to a scholarship and the educational component.