In the midst of finals week at Duke and with no games on the schedule until next week, it has been a big recruiting week for Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff, who have been all over the country scouting talent and visiting prospects these past several days.
Thursday night, Krzyzewski and assistants Steve Wojciechowski and Jeff Capel were in Texas to watch Duke signee Matt Jones, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, and his DeSoto high school (DeSoto, Tex.) team square off against Blue Devil target Jabari Parker of Simeon Career Academy out of Chicago.
Krzyzewski is all-in for Parker—the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2013—who will announce his highly anticipated college decision Dec. 20.
Krzyzewski’s primary threat in the recruitment, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, was also in attendance to watch Parker Thursday evening.
Parker, however, is a long ways from returning to his old self. The 6-foot-8 small forward is coming off foot surgery this summer and was just recently cleared to return to the hardwood. His long absence from competition was quite noticeable Thursday night as he finished with just five points. Playing sparse minutes and never able to get into a rhythm offensively, Parker was underwhelming, while seemingly struggling to move fluidly on the court.
During the game, ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep reported that Parker is likely “60-65%” at this point.
With time, however, Parker should get back into shape, lose weight and regain his groove as he attempts to lead Simeon to an unprecedented fourth-straight state title.
Without a healthy Parker, Simeon—the No. 1 team in the ESPN high school basketball power rankings—struggled mightily against an inspired DeSoto team.
Known most for his terrific long-range shooting prowess, future Blue Devil Matt Jones showed some added diversity to his scoring arsenal Thursday night. The 6-foot-4 sharpshooter finished with a game-high 23 points in front of Krzyzewski to lead his team to an 67-57 upset win over the three-time defending state champs from Illinois.
Jones is the No. 39 overall player in the class of 2013, per ESPN. If he can continue to perform like he has so far this season, he will likely see his ranking improve before the end of his prep career and compete for a spot in the McDonald’s All-American game in April.
Duke fans in the Triangle area will have an opportunity to watch Jones play live this month. Jones and DeSoto will be playing in the OT Holiday Invitational basketball tournament Dec. 27-29 in Raleigh.