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For years, basketball has come with many stereotypes. A common one suggests that tall players should automatically be placed in the post while smaller ones play as guards. However, this trend has become old news over the last several years. For example, basketball audiences most likely have noticed by now in how NBA superstars such as Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo stand tall near 7 feet but indeed play dominantly as wings. Nowadays, when I watch elite high school and travel basketball, I see taller players mimicking this notion in expanding their game out to the perimeter, which aids in stretching the floor. The traditional center position has become more extinct by the day. Need another example other than an NBA player' Take a look at Izeah Parker '19 from Hopewell High School (Hopewell, VA).

At 6'7,' Parker has always contained the tools to play as an interior forward but turned heads throughout the Hopewell, VA area in developing a more versatile offensive game over the last few seasons. However, this past season, he embraced a different type of role to help the team achieve the success they ultimately reached.

'Last year, I mainly had to take on a role of being a rebounder and spark plug for us on the floor,' Parker explained. 'We had a lot of guys who could score the ball so, for me, scoring wasn't a big priority. It was mainly playing defense and helping us on the glass.'

At the conclusion of his junior year, Parker saw the departure of Hopewell's two scoring leaders, outside of Elvin Edmonds IV (18.3 ppg), due to graduation. He quickly recognized how his role would change yet again for a big senior campaign. The Blue Devils would now need him to play more assertively on the offensive end. Parker used this acknowledgement as a focus during his final season on the travel circuit with Team Loaded 757.

'Travel ball had its ups and downs during the season but it just showed how tough we were mentally to go through some losses and still come out to play hard every single game.'

A key moment, one of Parker's favorites, happened during the spring/summer to exemplify what he means by the toughness of his travel team.

'I remember we were in Atlanta playing against an EYBL team. With less than two minutes to go, we were down by nine… and ended up coming back to win the game. That right there showed some serious focus.'

A key aspect to Parker's efficient offense connects to how patient he plays. He never tries to rush his scoring and can spot size advantages to determine which proper moves to make. Parker has great footwork around the rim to perform various spin and up-and-under moves. Running the floor and finishing above the rim may be his most impressive attributes. His 6'10' wingspan helps him intimidate opponents as a shot blocker and offensive rebounder. Over the last year, Parker put in work to include himself in the group of taller players who can play as a threat on the perimeter, as I touched on earlier. His shooting range has expanded and the confidence stands clear.

'It's all coming along now. People will definitely see that I've been working on my shot, something that I didn't do too well a while ago. It's obviously not automatic yet or anything but it's getting there. Still got time before the season gets here too.'

Since earning a spot on the Hopewell varsity roster, colleges began to notice the promise of Parker and started tracking his progress.

'My recruitment was pretty gradual. I remember getting my first offer from Hampton when I played 16u in AAU after my sophomore year. That was in July of that summer and Campbell offered not too long afterwards. After that summer, more colleges started showing up at our preseason workouts during my junior year. As the high school season went on, Mount St. Mary's and Air Force both offered. Then, I got the Coppin State offer this past summer.'

On August 6th, 2018, Parker ultimately committed to join the Eagles of Coppin State. His decision came with great satisfaction and reason.

'Being from Maryland, I kind of miss that home feeling a lot. The head coach, Juan Dixon, is also a great mind, probably one of the best shooting guards to ever play at Maryland. But, in all, it just felt like a family atmosphere there. That's what really made me decide on Coppin.'

While he firmly remains focused on having a great senior year for the Blue Devils, Parker pointed out some discussion between him and the Coppin State basketball staff on expectations as a first-year.

'The coaches said I could play a lot as a freshman. With my skill set, they acknowledged how I have the chance to earn accolades in the MEAC, like Rookie of the Year or even a first-team selection. But, regardless, they're going to expect me to come in ready and play a key role, whether that would be as a starter or not. Big expectations from both myself and the staff, honestly.'

Before even enrolling as a student on campus, Parker already has in mind what field of study he wants to focus on.

'I'll be looking into business management, for sure. It's just a broad field to go into. You can do a bunch of different things with that type of degree.'

Parker's time at Coppin State will surely arrive soon but the Hopewell veteran has his eyes set on finishing out a stellar high school career first before anything else. He returns as one of three seniors on the team. The trio has their eyes set on obtaining the ultimate prize before graduation.

'We want that state championship. Nothing less. All of us want to experience something that we've never done before. We've won regionals, districts, and other tournaments but haven't earned that state ring yet. Really want to know what that feels like.'

With Hopewell's constant grind in this preseason, getting in work both during morning and afternoon sessions frequently, the team has shown anything but a lack of focus and appear well on their way towards the big dance in the future months to come. When Parker isn't in the gym, one can find him doing two other particular activities.

'Shopping and watching YouTube videos,' he answered, with a laugh.

As usual… wait for it… where does Izeah Parker see himself in ten years'

'Playing basketball professionally. I don't care if it's in the NBA, G League, or overseas. I just want to make money by continuing to play the game I love.'

 

 

 

 

Tall, versatile players like Parker always intrigue me the most. They seem to be the prototype of this new generation of hoopers. The Coppin State commit has big things coming his way!