Aaron Parks always assumed he'd play college basketball somewhere on the East Coast. That notion, however, changed in a hurry for the Lake Clifton grad about one week ago.
Parks, who has spent the past year at Notre Dame Prep (Mass.), got a call from an assistant coach at Cal State Northridge inviting him to take an official visit to the Big West school. So the 6-foot-3, 198-pound combo guard packed his bags for Southern California over the weekend and returned home to Baltimore as the Matadors' newest commitment.
"I feel pretty good," Parks said Monday. "Just a weight lifted off my shoulders. All the hard work I put in finally paid off."
Parks, who also considered UNC-Wilmington and St. Bonaventure, is the first recruit for new Matadors coach Reggie Theus, the former Sacramento Kings coach and a long-time NBA player.
"My father and everybody knew who he was," Parks said. "Then I looked him up and I [saw] the type of background he had. He was the coach at New Mexico State. I did some research on him, found out he was a former NBA player and NBA coach. So I said, ‘Dang, that’s a big plus.’"
Even though he led Lake Clifton to the 2012 Class 2A state championship, and starred for Cecil Kirk on the AAU circuit, Parks said he had "not really that many looks" from colleges. A Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection, Parks headed to Notre Dame Prep to "get more exposed" to Division I schools.
"It was a big difference, because when I played for Lake Clifton, I played out of position [as a forward]," Parks said. "I had to do what I had to do for my coach, Coach [Herman] Tree [Harried]. That’s how we became champions. When I was [at Notre Dame Prep], I was ... playing point guard and shooting guard, able to expose my talents."
The new Cal State Northridge staff became aware of Parks thanks to his play at Notre Dame Prep. Theus -- who Parks said reminded him of Harried -- wants the former Lakers star to rotate between the 1 and 2, serving as a scorer and facilitator.
Parks said he loved everything about his visit to Northridge, which was his first trip to California. He's looking forward to spending the next four years out West.
"I never thought I would be able to go to the West Coast. Growing up in Baltimore, I always thought I’d be playing on the East Coast," Parks said. "[Cal State Northridge is] where I belong. ... Everybody is really happy for me. My family is really happy I’m able to go to school for free and fulfill my dreams."