The college basketball recruiting process has been absolutely crazy this year, with Nerlens Noel reclassifying late, the top two prospects deciding on national television and a team other than John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats leading the recruiting class rankings.
Parker is one of the best recruits left unsigned, behind only Anthony Bennett and Devonta Pollard in my mind. He is a talented power forward who is going to have a huge impact on whichever program he decides to join.
Standing at 6'9" and 270 pounds, Parker is a big forward who can easily carve out space on the low post against smaller defenders. He uses his weight to his advantage, and once he has position he provides a big target for point guards.
Parker can beat you on the offensive end with an impressive arsenal of post moves that are all equally effective. It is incredibly difficult to stop him once he has the ball inside, and his use of his body to shield the ball makes it tough to stop him from getting his shot off.
He used to have a problem with his stamina and physique, but now he is more fit and ready to dominate at the next level.
Parker is still considering Duke, Ohio State, Memphis, Georgetown, Kansas and Georgia, along with UCLA. However, it appears to have come down to the Bruins and the Bulldogs.
UCLA is an attractive offer because it provides the chance to step in and get a a starting position and a ton of playing time. He would also get to come to a program that is set to try to take over the Pac-12.
What sets UCLA apart is that more eyes will be on UCLA than Georgia, which will help NBA teams see and hear more about him. He would also get to play with close friends like Muhammad, Anderson and Jordan Adams. These four would form a great core for this team next year, and they all work well together.
At Georgia, Parker would also have a starting role and play as much as he wants with the Bulldogs, but he would be on a mediocre team in a tough conference like the SEC (the Bulldogs went 5-11 and finished only ahead of South Carolina in the SEC last year).
What sets Georgia apart is that it is close to home, which is perfect for his parents, and his high school coach may be getting an assistant coaching job at Georgia, which would complicate his decision further.
Parker did a roundtable discussion with ESPN, during which he highlighted what he liked about each school on his list. It appeared to me that his mom was the one who wanted him to go to Georgia, while he liked UCLA, listing off all the positives while dismissing potential negatives.
The discussion occurred before Muhammad signed with UCLA, and having the No. 2 recruit in the class join the school will draw more interest from Parker, since making the team better while not taking away from Parker's playing time is a big positive.
I see Parker heading to UCLA, joining Ben Howland and three of Parker's friends, and trying to take over the Pac-12. We'll know for sure on Monday, but for now, let's speculate a bit.
With De'End Parker transferring to San Francisco, Brendan Lane transferring to Pepperdine and the loss of four seniors, UCLA has room on the roster for these guys.
We know that Parker would start at power forward for the Bruins. We also know that Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad will start, with Anderson playing point guard along with Tyler Lamb in the backcourt, while Muhammad plays small forward. Parker would play power forward, while the Wear twins (Travis and David) will switch off at center.
This is how I see UCLA's starting five looking:
However, I expect the starting five to change several times, as Howland may decide to go big, playing Muhammad at guard, while bringing in both Wear twins and Parker inside. He could also decide to start Jordan Adams at shooting guard if Adams is impressive during practice, or if he wants his four freshmen working together.
Apart from an impact forward on both ends of the court, Parker gives UCLA a lot of versatility, as the team is deeper now and can utilize several combinations. He also gives the team better chemistry, as all four freshmen can work well together.
Apart from what he gives to the team in terms of talent and chemistry, he would also give UCLA the best recruiting class in the nation. Four recruits in the top 40 and three in the top 30 would be impressive, not to mention that the team already has two of the top four recruits.
While Kentucky and Arizona have had a stranglehold on the top two spots for a few months, UCLA would surpass both of them.
He would also give UCLA a position in the top five in the preseason poll, and the Bruins would be early favorites to win the Pac-12.
Parker gives UCLA true title hopes, and joining the Bruins would completely change the college basketball world.
For now we have to wait, but we'll know for sure on Monday. Until then, there is a bit of sanity in the college basketball world.
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