Hear me out and for a moment let's dream about the future. It's late February 2017. Nationally ranked Michigan comes to the RAC. Rutgers is having its best season in years and firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. They are the surprise team of the Big Ten. And they have the most exciting and dynamic back court in the country, led by Corey Sanders and Kwe Parker. They are facing off against the former 5-star recruit from New Jersey, Tyus Battle. It's late in a tie game and in a flash, Parker helps on a Battle drive and strips the ball. He outlets to Sanders, who dribbles down the left side of the court and throws a lob pass to Kwe, who flies through the air and makes the RAC rock like it's 1989. Jubilation ensues. Rutgers pulls off the upset and rides the momentum to their first NCAA tournament bid in 26 years!
Imagine the possibilities of a back court tandem comprised of two 4-star recruits, who are arguably the most athletic and entertaining players in their respective classes. They are both 6'2", freakishly athletic, energetic, skilled and fearless players. They have gone head to head in AAU action in the past. This video shows them playing against each other last year (Sanders is 3 in the white jersey; Parker is 22 in the red jersey):
Parker shows his tremendous leaping ability, smooth shot and gritty defense when stripping Sanders at the top of the key. Sanders displayed strength and determination with his ability to drive the paint in traffic and a steely demeanor. They both have explosiveness yet play under control. The action at 1:18 shows them going head to head above the rim, with Parker getting the best of Sanders on the play. The two of them together in the same back court would be one endless flurry of energy, athleticism and relentless pressure. Sanders is a true point guard who can drive the lane with authority and finish or dish in traffic. Parker is the perfect compliment, able to glide around the perimeter and take advantage of space that Sanders would create when driving. Parker has a quick first step and has the ability to slash in the lane or spot up for the jumper. I love how much lift he gets on his jumper from his legs. His leaping ability at the 42 second mark shows he doesn't even need a running start to sky to the rim.
The pace in which Rutgers would play with would be constant and relentless on both ends of the floor. They would be a two headed monster on defense, leading the full court press that Eddie wants them to play. Think of the extended area they could cover together on the top of a zone defense. Both players can start the break after a rebound and push the pace in an instant, swinging momentum at the drop of a slam dunk.
Parker is a consensus 4-star recruit ranked 51st in the country by both 247sports and rivals. He dropped this week in ESPN's latest top 100 list, from 59th to 90th. The only logical reason he could have dropped was that he just missed three months due to a broken foot. The knock on Parker is he is a undersized shooting guard who needs to bulk up to improve his game at the next level. Is there any reason to not think Kwe won't get bigger and stronger as he gets older? He is only 17. In his first game action since his return from the foot injury, Parker played at the UA Association tournament in New York City two weeks ago. See for yourself how #12 looked after his extended absence:
That's right, this was the first game action for Kwe Parker in three months after breaking his foot. Wow! It's obvious from this video he looked stronger than the previous year playing against Corey Sanders. His raw athleticism, dogged determination and supreme talent cannot be contained. He has already been the #1 highlight on ESPN's "Top Plays" twice in his high school/AAU career. He already has a nickname in "Sir Bounce". Aside from the hoopla, Parker must be a hard worker to be able to recover and return at such a high level in such a short period of time. Parker has also excelled with tremendous talent around him and is a winner. He won a state championship at Trinity Christian in 2014 with point guard Dennis Smith, the #4 recruit in the country and top point guard according to ESPN. He then transferred to Wesleyan Christian and is now high school teammates with ESPN's #1 recruit in the country, PF Harry Giles. His AAU team, the Karolina Diamonds, is loaded with D-I recruits.
The predictions on all the recruiting sites up until this week unanimously thought Parker would end up at Wake Forest. His friend, high school and AAU teammate Brandon Childress, committed to the Demon Deacons last fall. But quietly Eddie Jordan and Shoes Vetrone have stayed on Kwe, no doubt selling their vision of how dynamic Rutgers can be with him. He visited in September for the football game against TTFP. But because Parker lives in North Carolina and had visited Wake Forest several times during this past season, Rutgers has not been given a chance by the experts. He said in April that he would like to make a decision by July.
I will be making my decision on where I'm going to college before July— Kwe Parker (@iJump_tooMuch) April 22, 2015
But seemingly out of nowhere, there were reports last week that Kwe Parker was planning to visit Rutgers this upcoming weekend. It was then made official with this tweet:
Taking my official visit to Rutgers this weekend— Kwe Parker (@iJump_tooMuch) June 7, 2015
Hope and excitement has followed this week for the Scarlet faithful. Obviously, Parker has plenty of time to declare, but his tweet from two months ago would indicate he is close to a decision. And just this week, Wake Forest landed shooting guard Keyshawn Woods from Charlotte, former North Carolina high school player of the year and the Conference USA freshman of the year last season. At Rutgers, Kwe would have the fast track to start right away and make an immediate impact.
Visiting Rutgers on an official visit this weekend shows there is serious interest. Great players see great opportunity and capitalize on it. At Rutgers, Parker will have the tutelage of Eddie Jordan, the star partnership with Corey Sanders, unwavering support from a passionate fan base, and the chance to prove himself in the toughest conference in college basketball. There would never be any doubts about his ability to play in the NBA if Parker came to Rutgers and excelled in the rough and tumble Big Ten. He would flourish in the system and fast paced style Rutgers plans to play. Eddie has the NBA pedigree to give Parker confidence he will be in good hands on his quest to get to the next level. There is also an added benefit if Parker did commit to Jordan by July. When a talent like Parker commits early in the recruiting process, it allows for more top recruits to consider coming to play with him at Rutgers. Newly minted 4-star and ESPN top 100 recruit Taurean Thompson would certainly be aware.
We know that Kwe Parker is a special talent who can change the perception of the program overnight. We know that his ability, paired with Corey Sanders, and led by Eddie Jordan would have the potential to be a back court for the ages. Dare I say the best back court in Rutgers history since Fast Eddie himself paired with Mike Dabney to lead Rutgers to the final four in 1976? For now we can only hope that dream will one day become a reality.