Saturday, April 1, 2017

Uno En Uno with Chris Parker, NTSI Hoops

En route to piecing together a first-year prep/post graduate program at National Top Sports Institute (Scotland, PA), head coach Chris Chaney ingrained the theme of “underrated” in his team. 

Chaney, he of the most wins of any prep school coach in America, preached passionately on playing with a purpose and proving it.

He consistently urged his team to work steadily in improving their NCAA stock while staying within the confines of the system.

Slowly but surely, the team circumvented the me-first individualist attitude that tends to plague programs at the prep and JUCO level. 

The anthem of “unsung” reverberated to Chris Parker.

A scoring guard transitioning to the role of key facilitator, scorer, and primary defender on a team rife with new faces, Parker bought in faithfully.

Undersized yet oozing of potential, the 6-foot, 160-pound guard rapidly developed as more of a quarterback.

The Texas native relished the responsibility of seeing the play before it unfolded and getting a read on his teammates’ strengths.

 Parker fed the post, was instrumental in triggering the transition game, and scored at all three levels.

He called his own number during heightened pressure situations, with pivotal 3-pointers and drives during battles against Mount Zion (MD) and 22 Feet Academy (SC).

Parker also fed off backcourt mate Jalen Jordan, a skilled 6-foot-3 scoring guard known for prodigious leaping ability.

 Jordan, out of Conyers, GA., came on as a late-blooming Division-I prospect following a late-season tear at Rockdale County High School.

With Parker’s knack for big shots and performances in big games, Chaney has his lead guard pegged as a sleeper recruit.

“The kid can play in different speeds and will be an unreal get for someone late in the game,” Chaney said of Parker.

“He can shoot the lights out and basketball IQ is very high.”

Chaney coached the team widely regarded as the GOAT of prep teams at Laurinburg Prep (NC).

 Under Chaney in 2005, the team went 40-0 and sledgehammered opponents by an average of 40 points. Chaney also coached at The Patterson School in Lenoir, N.C. 

In Chaney’s overall career, he’s groomed guards such as former St. John’s superstar Dwight Hardy and memorable Seton Hall sharpshooter Jeremy Hazell. In Parker, he envisions a similar unacknowledged type of recruit. 

ZS: As soon as you arrived at the doorstep at NTSI, coach Chaney wanted you to take some ownership of the team. How did you buy in and how would describe your role?

CP: Oh it definitely wasn't hard for me to buy in quickly! As soon as I adjusted to all the fresh faces, I immediately knew it was time for me to step in and become the leader and point guard of this team. As far as my role went, I would probably describe it as the lead ball handler who has control of the game at all times and get the ball to my scorers at the right time. Also, hit open threes and be an aggressive force on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. 

ZS: Coach Chaney likes to say, "the bigger the stage, the bigger he plays" when assessing your performance. Has it become a mental thing with you, wanting to prove yourself in front of coaches and show out in those major matchups?

CP: It's definitely a mental thing with me. Coach Chaney always says, 'you have to play with a chip on your shoulder.' So every single game, I just approached it with the thoughts of all the coaches and schools that overlooked me and it just motivated me to step up on those big stages. It kills me to think that these coaches would go with someone over me for those reasons, so I have no choice but to go out there and prove them wrong. 

ZS: Your father has a deep history as a basketball coach, having had a career that's included stops in the major college level and the NBA and now overseas. What has his presence been like for you and how much has his passion for the game helped you? 

CP: I'm like my Dad's twin. It's like he just passed his passion and knowledge of the game on to me at an early age. As a young kid, I used to watch film with him all night. I feel like that's an experience not too many kids have the chance to do. Having my Dad as my biggest critic is also a plus. Not too many kids get to come home and get a 30-minute speech from an NBA coach on how you played.

ZS: Best moments of the season at NTSI? What experiences overall will stay with you? 

CP: I had way too many memories this year to even go through the list and think of them. From all the joking and pranks I had with my teammates to the serious and unique moments with coaches and trainers. I definitely would say it was one of the most fun, together teams I've ever played on. 

ZS: Which schools are starting to take note of your game and who has put an offer down?

CP: Some schools that expressed interest this year are Sacramento State, Mercer, UMBC, VMI and Henderson State offered also. 

ZS: You had a 29-point game against a highly-reputable and always hyper-competitive Mount Zion (MD) program. You drained four consecutive treys at one point and played with an edge in that one. What aspects were working for you in this particular game?

CP: I think what really started it in that one is that I hit a fade-away three off the backboard to beat the shot clock. After I hit that and then hit another, I told myself 'it's go time now.' Then I just kept my groove for the rest of the game.