How important is today to the future of Michigan State basketball? How good is this fabled recruit, Jabari Parker?
The second question is more easily answered. The Chicago Simeon forward, if he chooses MSU this afternoon, would be the Spartans’ most sought after recruit since Earvin at Everett more 35 years ago.
MSU isn’t the program it was in 1977 or 1996 (when Mateen Cleaves arrived). Johnson and Cleaves, to me, will remain in a class by themselves until someone comes along that either again rescues the program or vaults it to unprecedented heights.
But, by almost every account, Parker is the real deal — a sizable, versatile, skilled forward likely to spend only a year in college before taking his game to the NBA.
He’ll make is collegiate choice at 4 p.m. ET today, in a press conference that can be seen on ESPNU.
Our beat writer, Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode), will be tweeting from Chicago. I’ll (@graham_couch) be doing so from East Lansing, as will colleagues Chris Solari (@chrissolari) and Brian Calloway (@brian_calloway). Other than delivering the news in unison, we’ll hopefully offer further insight and opinion as Parker announces his decision and in the hours that follow.
As for who knows what this morning. Outside of Parker and maybe a few folks very close to him (like, in his house), no one knows anything. This is what I’ve been told by people cover him closely and know his coaches and father well.
But when has that stopped any one in my business from offering prediction based on bupkis or our own biased interpretation of tea leaves.
MSU coach Tom Izzo, who visited Parker Wednesday in Chicago, will speak to reporters following practice today at about 12:15. Maybe his mood will be telling. He won’t be able mention Parker by name, even after today, because Parker can’t sign his letter of intent until this spring.
And, oh yeah, MSU’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl media day is this morning. Talk about being overshadowed …
As for the predictions and pre-Jabari Parker-decision coverage, here are a few places to get your fix:
The Chicago Sun-Times put together a prediction panel, for which I took part, picking Duke, based on the idea that Duke always wins and I’m never right. Didn’t want to jinx Spartan fans.
Here’s a good piece by the Sun-Times’ Mike O’Brien that offers a little insight into the last few days leading into today’s decision.
ESPN also had its recruiting gurus predict Parker’s mind and break down his game.
And Rexrode does a nice job put it all in perspective for MSU, while offering the latest on Izzo’s inroads with Parker.
Talk to you soon.