Two days after helping Simeon win its fourth consecutive Class 4A state title, Jabari Parker added another accomplishment to his long list.
The 6-foot-8 Duke-bound forward was named the Morgan Wootten High School Player of the Year at an announcement Monday at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago.
Notre Dame recruit Taya Reimer of Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) was named the Wootten girls player of the year.
Parker was picked from a group of six finalists for the award, which also takes into account character, leadership, schoolwork and community involvement.
“It’s big-time,” Parker said at a news conference attended by his parents, Sonny and Lola Parker. “I always dreamed of being amongst the ranks of Chicago players, but now I can say it’s nationwide. Hopefully I can take this and give myself a little more motivation.”
Parker and Young's Linnae Harper, former teammates in middle school, were the only players from Illinois to be named McDonald’s All-Americans this season. They will play in the games April 3 at the United Center.
On Saturday, Simeon topped Stevenson 58-40 for the state title behind Parker’s 20 points and eight rebounds. After recovering from a fractured right foot, he averaged 18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists this season, according to Simeon records submitted to the Illinois High School Association.
Last season, Parker became the first junior to win the Mr. Basketball of Illinois award and was named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year and the Gatorade National Player of the Year. He is the first boys player from Illinois to win the award. Naperville Central graduate Candace Parker won it in 2004.
Parker said he will use his downtime following the season to network, do community service and enjoy his final days at Simeon before enrolling in Duke’s summer session in July.
“It's time to get back to the basics, get ready for college, get my academics in order so I can graduate on time and do the best I can do to mature and grow as a person,” Parker said. “Right now I want to take it slow. I’m not real anxious to leave. Simeon’s been a great place for me.”
Reimer, a 6-3 guard/forward, averaged 21 points, eight rebounds and two blocks this season. She played AAU ball with the Midwest Elite and future Notre Dame teammate Jewell Loyd, a Niles West graduate.
“I’m really excited about playing for Notre Dame,” Reimer said. “Obviously, the past few years they’ve been really good. ... It will be tough losing Skylar (Diggins) and Kaila Turner as well, the two seniors, but I think the freshman class is going to be really strong. Hopefully we’ll all have good summers and make a big impact.”
Other boys finalists were Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty (Calif.), Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison of William B. Travis (Texas), Dakari Johnson of Montverde (Fla.) and Andrew Wiggins of Huntington Prep (W.Va.).
Other girls finalists were Harper, Lexie Brown of North Gwinnett (Ga.), Kaela Davis of Buford (Ga.), Diamond DeShields of Norcross (Ga.), and Mercedes Russell of Springfield (Ore.).
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