Sports

Simeon’s Jabari parker during a team practice at Grand Prairie high school, in Grand Prairie, TX, on Sunday, December 9, 2012. PHOTO/CHICAGO TRIBUNE

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Simeon senior Jabari Parker announced Thursday that he’ll play basketball at Duke University in the fall.

Parker, ranked the No. 2 player in the country by ESPN, made the announcement at Simeon at a news conference televised on ESPNU. The 6-foot-8 forward previously had narrowed his choices to BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford, but kept most everyone guessing until the final verdict Thursday.

Reporters began gathering in the Simeon gymnasium more than hour before Parker was set to announced his decision.

A podium crowded with microphones sat at the front of the set-up, and to its side was a table with the team hats of BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford in a row. At least nine television cameras lined the back of the reporters’ seats.

There was a brief commotion among reporters when the Lansing State Journal accidentally posted a pre-written story stating that Parker had chosen Michigan State. The reporter quickly apologized via Twitter, saying an announcement had not been made yet.

At the beginning of the week, Parker said he hadn’t yet made up his mind, and coaches from Duke, Florida and Michigan State visited Chicago to make their final pitches.

The announcement was expected to be a relief for Parker, who has said he doesn’t enjoy the attention that comes with the recruiting process. He told the Tribune last week that he wanted to make the announcement so that he could focus on his senior season, which has gotten off to a rocky start.

Parker is coming back from a fractured right foot he suffered over the summer while playing with the USA Basketball U-17 team. He totaled 15 points in Simeon’s first three games this season but decided to sit out the Wolverines’ games this week to focus on recovering his conditioning and feel for the game.

“I don’t want any distractions, like I said,” Parker said last week. “It will just be a day when I can get everything out of the way because I don’t like attention.”

Parker’s commitment Thursday isn’t binding. He won’t sign a letter of intent until this spring.

“It’s just a commitment,” Parker said last week. “It’s not like I’m signing. It still gives me room to make plans in case anything goes otherwise.”

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Maura Wall Hernandez is digital editor of The Mash.

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