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Hartford’s Jerell Parker

March 7, 2003 Columns No Comments



America East Profile: Hartford’s Jerell Parker

by Phil Kasiecki

College basketball players transfer to another school for varying reasons, a fact often lost in discussions where it is spoken of in a negative light. Some transfer hoping for playing time at another school; some do it because they are finding the school less to their liking than they thought; some do it to return close to home or get away from home.

For Hartford junior Jerell Parker, it was all about head coach Larry Harrison.

“I wanted to get away from home, but I also wanted to keep some Chicago ties,” Parker says, before mentioning that Harrison recruited him while an assistant at DePaul. “I found out he got the head coaching job here at Hartford, I asked one question, and that was: was it (Hartford) D-I? He said, ‘yes’.” That was all Parker needed.

Parker started his career at Loyola (Ill.), a school in his hometown of Chicago. Two seasons ago, he averaged 6.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in 10 games as a starter, while appearing in all 26 games. Many viewed Loyola getting him as a steal, in part because Harrison saw his talent at DePaul, where he was an assistant under Pat Kennedy for three years before becoming Hartford’s head coach prior to the 2000-2001 season. Harrison knew about Parker’s talents then, and speaks quite highly of him now.

“I feel Jerell’s the best player in the conference overall,” Harrison says. “He brings us a lot of aggressiveness, he can score, he just does a little bit of everything for us.”

Parker has had a fine season for the Hawks, ranking in the top ten in America East in four statistical categories, including scoring (seventh) and rebounding (fourth). The 6’4″, 210-pound junior plays with a lot of energy, handles the ball a lot for the Hawks, and creates off the dribble with a good mid-range touch.

He’s also enjoying life in West Hartford.

“I love it,” he says when asked about the university and the surrounding area. “They treat me like a four-year student. The school, the town of Hartford, they show me a lot of love at the university, and it’s just been a great experience for me. I think I’m playing four times better than I played at Loyola.”

Parker respects his former school, which is easy to believe in talking to him and getting the sense of a young man who has found a home. One also gets that sense listening to him speak highly of his Hawk teammates both on and off the court, as he loves the energy they bring to practice and games. It’s not a surprise to one who sees him play.

Parker leads a Hawks team that has experienced a turnaround since Harrison’s first season on the sideline. That year, the Hawks suffered through the worst season in the program’s history with a 4-24 record. Last season, they won 10 more games and narrowly missed being in the America East title game. This season, the Hawks have a veteran cast that includes three of last season’s top four scorers, seniors Junior Amous and Wayne McClinton and junior Ryan Stys. Another newcomer, freshman guard Aaron Cook, has wasted little time making an impact as well, including being named the conference’s Rookie of the Week in the final week of the regular season. The Hawks were picked third in the America East preseason poll of conference head coaches, so the expectations were there on all sides.

The Hawks dropped four straight games after winning their first two games. Since the new year, they have won three straight games twice, and throughout the season they have protected their home court well. They finished the regular season strong and in third place for the second consecutive season.

Parker hopes to play professionally when his college career is done, then hopes to stay in the world of basketball when his playing days are over. The junior communications major has done internships at NBC and ABC, and looks forward to one at ESPN this summer. It all fits right in with what his energetic play on the court shows.

“I just want to be around the sport,” Parker says when asked of his plans after basketball. “I love basketball, I love sports as a whole.”

Observers at this year’s America East Tournament will get to see his love for the game, and perhaps he can help lead the Hawks to their first ever NCAA Tournament.

Back to the America East Profile index.

     

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