It's still very early in the process, but we say it all the time: recruiting is the life blood of any program, and that tenet holds for the men's basketball team, perhaps now more than ever. In light of recent developments -- the loss of five players to transfer or the NBA, and the NCAA sanctions that will keep the Huskies out of the 2013 postseason -- the quickest way to get back in the national title conversation is to convince the best players in the country to play for you.
John Calipari has perfected this, and the Huskies, under Jim Calhoun, have had great success landing the country's top players. Despite what appears to be a rebuilding season on the horizon, recent history suggests that UConn won't be down long. And Calhoun's track record may be enough to convince 6-7 Jabari Parker to call Storrs home in an official announcement in November.
The consensus No. 1 high school player in the country, Parker plans to make his college intentions known this fall and the Huskies are on the (relatively) short list that includes 13 other programs: BYU, DePaul, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio State and Washington.
So, yes, it's early to get too excited (we're not yet at the Andre Drummond "Wait, he's really coming to UConn?!" stage of the recruitment process), but the Huskies aren't out of the running, either.
"It’s a lot of schools on my list right now,” Parker told SNY.tv (via ZagsBlog.com). “I’m on a setback not making as much progress as I should be [cutting his list] but I’m looking to make my choice in November."
Wherever Parker ends up, it'll come with the requisite expectations. In fact, he's already drawn comparisons to LeBron James in a recent Sports Illustrated story. The plan is to narrow the list to eight schools over the summer, which means UConn will have to get to work. Michigan State and Duke are considered early favorites for Parker, a likely one-and-done player who will head to the NBA after his freshman season.
“Jabari has great relationships with [Michigan State coach] Tom Izzo and [Duke coach] Mike Krzyzewski," recruiting analysts Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye told CSNChicago.com. "That is a very important factor to consider, his relationship with the head coach. And one other thing to consider: Michigan State is closest to home.”