November 27, 2012

BYU Fans and Team Deliver on Jabari's Visit

Last Saturday, as everybody knows, the number 2 basketball recruit in the country came on his official visit to BYU, which is in his list of top 5 schools. Jabari Parker is a 5*, 6-foot-8, 220-pound highlight reel making, early morning seminary attending superstar. Saturday was BYU's chance to make their impression.

The fans did their part. A BYU fan from Iowa, Greg Welch, and Tony Brown designed a "Chicago to Provo" T-shirt to hand out to BYU fans to wear at the game and were able to raise enough funds to print 6,300 T-shirts encouraging Jabari to come to BYU. You can read more about that in this ESPN article Also in that article is a link to a parody youtube video made by other BYU fans of Psy's "Gangnam Style" telling Jabari that the only thing missing in Provo is "Parker Style." The video was well produced and high quality, but had way too high of a ratio of white guys to beautiful women for my taste. I'm sure Jabari really appreciated it anyway.

He also surely appreciated a sellout crowd during Thanksgiving weekend when the students don't have class and a lot of them were home for the holidays. For the fans to make that kind of showing and to be such a rowdy home crowd in that situation was pretty incredible. The home court advantage was very real for the Cougars on Saturday, and the fans helped BYU to a very critical win both for this season and in Jabari's recruitment.

The administration also had a great plan for Jabari's official visit. It was planned to have Jabari speak at a local fireside during his visit, but the fireside was cancelled for fear that it might result in a recruiting violation. It was worth a shot, and it was certainly a grey area, as there aren't very many recruits being wooed by coaches via fireside speaking opportunities.

The basketball team tried to take advantage of their opportunity to help in recruiting Jabari, but there were some things that might have discouraged the prep phenom. The first thing that hurt was Davies getting in foul trouble early because of a bogus technical foul for yelling "Let's Go!" and a blocked shot that the refs got ticky-tack on and called a foul. With him getting limited minutes in the first half Cal State Northridge grabbed a bunch of offensive rebounds and would have led in points in the paint if it wasn't for all of BYU's transition buckets in the paint.

One thing Jabari is likely looking for is quality big men to defend the paint and clear the defensive glass. As a point-forward he probably wants to be able to focus on defending his man and getting out and running in transition with the ball in his hands. Sharp only had 2 defensive rebounds in 23 minutes, which isn't what Jabari wants to see from next year's returning starting power forward. Sharp did have 2 blocked shots, which was encouraging, along with "Stone Cold" Nate Austin's 1 block and 3 defensive rebounds in only 8 minutes of play, so hopefully Jabari saw what he wanted to see out of Austin as next years projected starting center. Jabari also knows that 3* PF recruit Luke Worthington and 4* PF recruit Eric Mika are fantastic rebounders, and maybe he foresees one of them replacing Davies at center next year.

The other glaring weakness that BYU showed was their outside shooting. Carlino and Cusick combined to shoot 1-6 from behind the 3 point line, Zylstra shot well, but he's not going to be around next year. That leaves Tyler Haws as the only returning player who shot well from distance. Jabari is going to attract some attention from defenses next year, and he's going to want to be able to depend on his shooters to hit the open shots that he gets for them. 31.3% from three point land doesn't cut it, so hopefully Carlino finds his shot really soon before Jabari makes his decision.

The good news is that Tyler Haws could be Jabari's dream teammate. That would be one of the best wing duo's in the country, and it would give opposing defenses fits. Haws is a good defender, who runs the court as well as anybody, and most importantly, scores tons of points without needing the ball in his hands. Haws and Sharp move so well without the ball, Jabari can surely imagine himself dishing to either of them for the easy lay in. Haws and Sharp both also really hustle for the offensive rebound, which every scorer loves to see from his teammates.

Jabari also would have loved the culture that he saw on this BYU basketball team. Carlino, the highly recruited transfer from UCLA, has been struggling in the previous couple of games, so Coach Rose had him come in off the bench. Carlino came in off the bench, hustled on defense, had a steal, 2 offensive rebounds and 6 assists to only 1 turnover. He also was more selective with his shot, using his floater to hit some shots in the lane to contribute points even though his outside shot wasn't falling.

This was a big game for Carlino to come out and do a good job of leading the offense and distributing again. Jabari has a chance to score more at BYU than he would at almost any other college in the country because of the pace that BYU plays at and Carlino's capability of leading the break, distributing, and creating for his teammates. A scorer also likes to see the depth, hustle, and athleticism that Winder brings. Winder causes a lot of problems for opposing offenses, and makes his contributions without needing the ball in his hands as well.

I think that the talent that BYU has on the roster next year fits Jabari perfectly. Without a dominant scoring big man on the roster next year Jabari would initiate the offense and run everything through him. He would be one of the team leaders in assists and be one of the national leaders in points per game. There is no better place for him to campaign as the National Player of the Year, and no better university for him to build a national following in the NBA.

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