It's more of a feeling than anything, as Jabari Parker doesn't exactly leave those of us searching for answers with much of a crumb trail.
The nation's No. 2 recruit for 2013 (ESPN 100) will make his decision between Michigan State, Duke, Florida, BYU and Stanford this Thursday. While the others have made enough of a case to land in Parker's top five, it's clear nobody has pursued the 6'8" small forward harder than Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski.
Despite their busy in-season schedules, both coaches were in attendance for his game against DeSoto High in Texas last week.
I could be going out on a limb here, but I think it's safe to say the choice will be between the Spartans and the Blue Devils.
According to USA Today, Jabari's father, Sonny Parker, appeared to have the same sentiments last week:
He hasn't told me where. I didn't ask him. It's kind of hard to say. He's like all the schools we've visited. He's hard to read sometimes. He keeps things to himself, so I don't put any pressure on him. I think it will probably be be between Duke and Michigan State. That's what I'm thinking.
Hours later, Jabari made an effort to debunk his father's prediction. "No, that's not correct," Parker told the Chicago Tribune. "I'm still considering all of them."
Jabari Parker certainly knows how to make our jobs harder. But sometimes you have to overlook those counters from media-savvy prospects like Parker.
Both he and his father seemed to talk more about Coach Izzo and Coach K than anyone else on the list—and with higher regard for their excellence.
When Steve Clark of The Devils Den asked Jabari Parker about the two coaches, this was his reply:
They are both pretty much the same when you talk to them one on one. With both of them it's what you see is what you get. Both of them are very passionate and that's what I like about them the most. I've got a pretty good relationship with both of them, and they've known me for a long time. I'm pretty comfortable with both of them.
Clark also went one-on-one with Sonny Parker that week, asking him if he felt any coaches had a better connection with his son:
Yes. They all have different styles and personalities. Some are more intense than others, but with guys like Coach K and Coach Izzo, they get results. They maximize what they have, and even though their styles are different, they get results. You can't argue with their success of either program, and the fact that they have good character players.
Though there isn't much to separate the two coaches' statuses with Parker, sometimes you have to look places you normally wouldn't to find those bread crumbs.
To this date, I have yet to find a better clue than his tweet to narrow down his list of schools to 10:
UK, Stanford, michigan state, Kansas, Florida, Duke, BYU, Georgetown, Depaul, UNC. No order.— Jabari Parker (@JabariParker22) July 11, 2012
Is there anything in that tweet that stands out to you? I didn't even give it a second glance until a Bleacher Report community member, Nick Masters, pointed out that Michigan State was the only program that wasn't capitalized.
While that can easily be written off as a typo, it is the only one on that list he failed to capitalize. Was it a mistake, or was it the only clue Parker was willing to drop during his recruitment?
It's not the greatest indicator, but Masters' keen eyes didn't fail me in my earlier recruiting predictions, so I'm hanging on to that little nugget until the end.
The one concern I have with Tom Izzo's chances is the fact he hasn't snatched up a top 10 recruit (Scout.com) since Shannon Brown in 2003. But I think we can all agree few coaches do more with less than Izzo.
That could be something that sways Parker.
Despite the program rarely putting in a top-10 recruiting class, Izzo has managed to get the job done. Since joining Michigan State in 1995, Coach Izzo has put his team in six Final Fours and brought home the title in 2000.
In that same time span, Coach K has brought two titles to Duke, but only four Final Four appearances. Krzyzewski may have more titles to his name, but Izzo seems to take his team further on a more consistent basis—with lower-ranked recruits.
Parker also seems to fit better on Michigan State's roster next season.
Keith Appling is having an excellent year so far, and could be returning to the Spartans for his senior campaign—especially if Izzo can land Parker. Freshman Gary Harris is the second-leading scorer for the squad at the 2, while Adreian Payne is also having a solid junior season at the 5.
My only area of concern is with Branden Dawson. He is third on the team in scoring, and plays the same position as Parker. One of them may have to play the 4.
On the flip side, Duke will be loaded with forwards and guards that will be vying for steady minutes. Andre Dawkins will be back next season at the 2, and Rasheed Sulaimon has already proven he is a force at the 3. At the 4, there is Amile Jefferson, Alex Murphy and Josh Hairston.
Which Program Will Land Parker?
Where exactly does Jabari Parker fit on Duke? I'm sure Coach K would find playing time for Parker, but will he get as much as he would at Michigan State?
I doubt it.
On top of that, Parker's Chicago home is much closer to Michigan than North Carolina, which plays a factor in these decisions more often than not.
To me, the choice is clearer than Jabari Parker would ever admit. Merry Christmas, Michigan State fans.