CHICAGO | Former Bulls player and Duke All-American Jay Williams was looking forward to seeing the talent in Wednesday's boys contest at the McDonald's All-American Games at the United Center.
Williams was an analyst for ESPN at the event and had a special interest in the West's Jabari Parker from Simeon and Matt Jones of DeSoto, Texas. Both are Duke recruits. Parker, the nation's top prep star and son of former NBA player Sonny Parker, has taken over games in his career and Williams said it would be interesting to see how he did against other All-Americans. Williams led Duke to the 2001 NCAA title and was the 2002 Nasimith College Player of the Year.
"I don't know what to expect because I have never seen Jabari play against other kids of this caliber," Williams said. "Will he take over the game, work his teammates into the flow of the game or just try and fit in? With an unselfish player like Jabari, you know he is team-oriented."
The West team coached by Mount Carmel's Mike Flaherty won 110-99. Aaron Gordon, the game's MVP, had 24 points and thrilled the crowd with numerous dunks. Parker finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two assists in 21 minutes.
West assistant coach Brian Flaherty, a T.F. South grad, said Parker looked really good in practices.
"Even against other All-Americans, he stood out in the practices," Flaherty said. "Now I know how he was able to take over games and lead Simeon to four state titles."
The Wolverines won four straight Illinois Class 4A state titles. In 2012, Parker took over a game against Bloom Township in the Class 4A semifinals. Bloom was giving the Wolverines all they could handle and West assistant coach Jasper Williams remembers that.
"We had no answers for him," Jasper Williams said. "He is just a tremendous player and it is not only an honor to coach in this game, but to coach these great players."
Jay Williams, who played in the 1999 McDonald's game in Ames, Iowa, said Parker can fill a gap at Duke with the graduation departures of Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry.
"He can be a scorer and Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) will need to replace those points," Williams said. "I think Jabari Parker can blaze his own path."
Notre Dame recruit and Mishawaka Marian player Demetrius Jackson received the Jack Daly Sportsmanship Award.
In the girls game, the West won 92-64 as MVP and Tennessee recruit Mercedes Russell had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the winners.