HOOPS: Happy, Sad Day for Parsons?

Monday was the best of times and the worst of times all jam packed into one single day for Chandler Parsons. It was the best of times because he called seven schools to tell them they’re on his short list. It was the worst of times because he had to call some coaches he has grown to love and respect to tell them thanks but no thanks.

“When I called Arizona State and told them no I felt like such a complete jerk,” said Parsons, the 6-9 shooter deluxe from Lake Howell who has been a comet streaking across the recruiting sky after a summer in which he averaged close to 25 points a game playing for Nike Team Florida. “I had to do it because of the distance factor but it hurt because Coach (Herb) Sendek and Coach Archie Miller are just such great guys and I really love them. But it was just too far away.”

Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Indiana, South Florida and Oklahoma made the final list. Wake Forest, Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, South Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Boston College, Miami and West Virginia are among the schools that didn’t make the cut along with Arizona State.

It’s a list of seven but Florida is the clear favorite.

“I talked to Coach (Donnie) Jones and he asked me to come up in a week or so to sit down with Coach (Billy Donovan) to talk about things,” said Parsons, whose teammate at Lake Howell and Team Florida, Nick Calathes, is a Florida commitment. “He said the offer is there on the table for me but they want me to sit down with them so we can talk about how I fit in and how they see my role on the team.

“I thought that’s fair and before I make a choice, that’s something I want to do. I love Florida but I want to make sure that it’s the right choice for me. I want to be sure that they want me for me and what I can do to help them, not because a lot of other people are recruiting me and they just don’t want someone else to get me.”

While Parsons’ star reached new heights this summer, so did the star that belongs to Calathes. But Calathes was always considered one of the real plums of the 2007 basketball recruiting class. At Lake Howell, Calathes has been the Lone Ranger and Parsons has been Tonto. This summer, Parsons didn’t overtake Calathes in the player rankings by Scout.com and other services, but he did more to raise his stock than any other player in the country.

“I love the Gators but I don’t want them to want me just because I play with Nick,” he said.

But there is no question he would love to play with Calathes. They’ve been to three Final Fours in the state high school tournament and they tore it up on the AAU circuit this summer.

“Everybody wants to play with Nick,” said Parsons. “He and I have been playing together so long now that it just seems natural for me. I’d really like to keep on playing with him.”

While Calathes will factor strongly in the Florida equation, there are other considerations.

“I’ve known the coaches at Florida for three years,” said Parsons. “I like all of them, my best friend (Calathes) is going there, and it would be a chance to play for a team that has won a national championship that has a great coaching staff and you can get a great degree from Florida. I really love Coach Donovan as a coach and as a person. It’s a great situation to be in and it would be great if it’s the right situation for me. There’s a lot to like there.”

He will think long and hard about the Florida offer but he will also consider the other six schools on his list.

LSU: “I haven’t seen their campus yet but I’m really looking forward to it. Coach (John) Brady is my man. He’s really funny but he’s someone that we can talk about all kinds of stuff that’s not basketball related. They have a lot of tradition in their program and great fans. I think I would be a good fit in their program.”

TENNESSEE: “They came on late but Coach Bruce Pearl is a great guy and I like the way they play. Chris Lofton is one of the greatest shooters in the country and their offense is really designed for a shooter so that’s something to really think about.”

NOTRE DAME: “I have a really good relationship with Coach (Mike) Brey. I feel that I fit their style and they play in a great league (Big East). If I got hurt and couldn’t play, I would have one of the best college degrees in the country to fall back on.”

INDIANA: “Their tradition is so crazy and all their history interests me a lot. Coach Sampson and I have talked a lot. It’s kind of weird that he didn’t get to see me play this summer because of the things that happened when he was at Oklahoma but four of his assistants saw me and they have film on me from Peach Jam.”

SOUTH FLORIDA: “Reggie (Kohn, former coach at Lake Howell) is there and that’s a plus. I have a great relationship with Coach McCollum. They’re at the bottom of the Big East and they struggled last year, but they were short handed and they’re really trying to build something. They play in the Big East and they’re an hour and a half from my home.”

OKLAHOMA: I look at Coach Jeff Capel as a great coach but also as my friend. I’ve gotten to be really good friends with Blake Griffin (6-9 power forward/center from Edmond). Playing with Blake would be a great opportunity.”

What Parsons likes best about his final seven is that he feels he can’t go wrong with any of the head coaches.

“With all seven of these coaches, I feel that they’re people I can trust and that’s important to me,” he said. “They’re the kind of people that I can talk to and have a relationship with that’s about more than just basketball.”

Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.