He has been a bit of a mystery the last couple years on the basketball recruiting scene. Kids are getting scouted earlier and earlier these days, but much of the work starts to get done in a player’s sophomore year. That’s when the best start to separate themselves and the first real rankings come out.
Tayson Parker is one of those kids that has quietly made a name for himself behind the scenes. It started as message board rumors and word of mouth, but Parker was harder to see in person because until this year, he played for an Indianapolis Homeschool team. He made the usual AAU circuit, but last year he was featured in the Indianapolis Star as the Best Player You’ve Never Heard Of because of his home school roots:
Tayson Parker didn’t play basketball until he was 11. He was a soccer player. His father had to drag him – not quite kicking and screaming, but almost – to his first tryout. “Please no,” Tayson said. “Don’t do this to me.”
By age 12, he could dunk. He was done playing soccer. Basketball was Tayson’s sport. Now, at 15, he has a Division I college basketball offer. He’s probably the best high school basketball player you’ve never heard of. But Tayson has a plan.
Thanks to an IHSAA rule that says you can play for a varsity team as long as you are taking two classes at a school he is playing this season as a sophomore at Northwestern High School near Kokomo. I was hoping he would end up playing for my Kats, but it didn’t work out that way. Tonight I was able to see him in person and see what the hype around him is about.
Northwestern entered tonight at 7-2 on the season, but was coming off of a tough 83-73 loss at Lafayette Central Catholic. He had 44 points in that loss, showing that Northwestern relies on him pretty heavily. Tonight was more of the same. Northwestern got a tough 55-50 win, and Parker had 23 points, 7 rebounds, and a couple of big steals on defense.
The first thing that stands out is that Parker is, by far, the best player on his team. Hamilton Heights threw kind of a junk double-team at him tonight as his coach Jim Gish said:
“Any time he got to a certain point on the court they sent a second guy at him. That made it easier for his on-the-ball defender to zig-zag him because he knew he had that help behind him. It was coming from both directions. In the first half we got a few easy dump downs because they had extended that defense a little higher than they wanted. They were waiting until he got into the meat of the offense to send two at him. He did a nice job, too. He sees two and three defenders every night. I don’t know if he will ever get to play against just one guy again.”
It is pretty obvious Parker is a pure scorer. He is explosively athletic for only being 6’1”. At one point he attempted a dunk in traffic and nearly pulled off what would have been a true highlight flush. Late in the game he came in on the weakside for a critical blocked shot at the rim from behind. He is listed at 6’1”, 175 pounds, but he plays much bigger. He is already an above-the-rim player on both ends.
The Kokomo Tribune has him at more than 30 points per game:
Scoring: Tayson Parker (NW) 30.6 points per game; Trajan Deckard (Kokomo) 19.6; Chandler Pitts (Mac) 18.0; Anthony Barnard (Kokomo) 16.4; Easton Good (Cass) 15.8.— KokomoTribune sports (@SportsKT) December 20, 2017
Tonight he had the first 7 points for Northwestern with a pull-up 10-foot jumper, a three-pointer off of a screen, and from the free throw line after driving to the basket. He can score in a variety of ways. He has an explosive first step and is very quick. What I also liked is that he moves very well without the basketball. He sets screens for his teammates (even though he is at least 3 levels above them athletically) and moves to free up other guys. He is not looking solely to get the ball back and score. By doing this with an HS team where he is far and away the best player it will pay huge dividends at the next level.
He is still working on his dribbling in traffic, but he has pretty good handles. He had a few turnovers tonight by trying to do a little too much at times, but I don’t think it is a huge problem. He has the fearless confidence to drive to the basket and score. He also picks his spots for his jumper. Tonight he only hit one three-pointer and airballed two attempts, but he has had much better games from the perimeter I know.
I had him for 23 points tonight on 5 of 13 shooting from the floor and 10 of 12 from the line. He hit the game’s clinching free throws with 20.3 seconds left, but was active all over the place. I also had him for 7 rebounds (a team high), 2 blocked shots, a critical steal just before those clinching free throws that prevented Heights from getting off a tying 3-pointer, and a couple of assists. He is a great scorer, but doesn’t try to do it all himself.
Honestly, I would compare him to Carsen Edwards. He is a little taller and will fill out well muscle-wise. He is definitely a pure scorer that is fearless. The Indy Star report said he scored more than 900 points last year for his home school team. They played a mix of IHSAA schools and he had 31 last year against Eric Hunter and Class A state champion Indianapolis Tindley. Tennessee-Martin has already given him a Division I offer, too. Here is the best part though:
As for the future? Parker’s dream is to play at Purdue.
“My whole family went there and I’ve been to their camps and everything,” he said. “I like their coaching style. Hopefully it happens.”
It is still early, and Painter doesn’t usually offer this early, but Parker did visit this week for the Rutgers game. There is definitely some Carsen Edwards in him (he is 88th in one set of rankings I found), too. I am glad he is on Painter’s radar and I think he would be worth an offer.