Kentucky basketball fans are used to the Wildcats being favored to land top recruits. So when the Detroit Free Press wrote that three schools (not named Kentucky) are in the lead for star recruit Jabari Parker, it came as a surprise.
Of course, that's just according to "sources." Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog spoke with Chicago recruiting expert Roy Schmidt, who said there were three schools in the lead for Parker's services: Michigan State, Duke and Kentucky.
In the end, no one is sure which college is in the lead for Parker. He and his family keep their cards close to their chest, something that is very respectable in the current recruiting climate.
We know one thing for sure: There are 10 schools that have a shot at landing Parker in 2013. Kentucky is one of the 10—and to consider it out of the race would be senseless at this point.
The Parker family has made it clear: They'll take their time.
Parker's father, Sonny, told ESPNChicago.com, "We aren't in a hurry. He can pretty much go anywhere he wants to go and can take his time. Like I told him, if you aren't ready, do it in the spring. If they want you bad enough, they'll wait."
Which brings me to the first of three things John Calipari can do to land Parker.
This goes for the Big Blue Nation as well as the Kentucky basketball staff. Parker is a unique player, both in the way he's gone about his recruitment and in the way he plays on the court. He won't be overwhelmed by the process or the big stage.
Coaches are now allowed unlimited calls and texts to recruits, but that doesn't mean Parker should be receiving a text and call every day.
The Kentucky fanbase is known for its enthusiastic involvement in the program. Some players like to be showered with Big Blue love on Twitter and elsewhere, but Parker isn't that type. He's not one to retweet everything that mentions his name.
But patience alone won't bring Parker to Lexington. He'll need to be enticed to join the Big Blue.
Land the Harrison Twins This Fall
Two players—Andrew and Aaron Harrison—could be the key to landing Parker. In today's basketball climate, players want to team up with other stars in their class. It's a winning scenario for multiple reasons.
First, a team with the Harrison twins and Parker would be, without question, the best recruiting class in the country. That level of exposure coming in to college would be unmatched. NBA scouts would have three sure-fire lottery picks to watch at every Kentucky basketball game.
Second, they'd win. Plain and simple.
With the Harrison twins in the backcourt and Parker at small forward, Calipari could throw any power forward/center combination out on the court and the team would still win. Winning is always nice, right?
Lastly, playing with other future professionals is a nice segue to the NBA. Parker is a one-and-done talent, and Coach Cal is known for his ability to cultivate talent in a single year.
If landing the Harrison twins isn't enough...
Get Parker to Visit Campus
Lexington, Ky., was built around the University of Kentucky. The university is the leading employer in the region (according to the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce), and there is no shortage of people who are devoted to the school.
It's easy to say that Lexington is a sports town.
With the newly renovated Wildcat Coal Lodge and one of the most historic venues in college basketball, the aesthetics of the basketball program are top notch. Add that to what Parker already knows about Kentucky (defending national champions, 15 players drafted in three years, etc.), and the recruiting pitch would be complete.
Oct. 12 is Big Blue Madness. If Calipari wants to land Parker, he'd do well to extend a Big Blue Madness invitation to the Chicago star. Parker could take in the full "Kentucky Effect" on that night.
Although most recruiting analysts believe Kentucky is not one of the leaders for Parker, it's far from eliminated. Parker's recruitment is unclear, mostly by his and his family's design.
Parker's father told Rivals that Jabari will trim his list next month. We'll have a better idea of Parker's alleged "favorites" at that time.