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Is Jabari Parker ready for pressure that comes with SI cover?

May 15, 2012, 8:50 PM EDT

Jabari Parker’s already been tagged as the “next big thing” for some time now. The Chicago product and top recruit in the class of 2013 was the 2012 Gatorade national player of the year – as a junior – thanks to his impressive mix of size, skill and savvy.

Even better? By all accounts, he’s a humble kid, who stays grounded thanks to his family and faith.

Good thing, too. He’s about to earn a much-higher profile after this week’s Sports Illustrated hits.

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The “best high school player since LeBron James” places more than a little pressure on Parker’s 6-9 shoulders. SI reserves its cover for pros and the occasional phenom. (Bryce Harper was one a few years ago.) To associate his name with LeBron ensures everyone’s already high expectations for Parker rise even more among hoopheads.

Meanwhile, this is certainly the first time most casual fans will have heard of him. Some will shrug off the LeBron association. But most will automatically expect Parker to be that good.

(Not to mention the wrinkle that Parker, a Mormon, may leave for a two-year mission when he’s 19.)

It’s not quite the same loaded headline LeBron received (“The Chosen One”) but it’s plenty. Saying Parker’s better than Anthony Davis, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, John Wall, Derrick Rose (or take your pick of any other touted prospect since 2004) is a strong statement. Sometimes, the comparison backfires.

Hope Parker’s ready for it.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

  1. 1historian - May 16, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    Pretty much since its inception SI has set the standard for sports photography and until the last decade or so their writing has been darn good. But lately it has been getting worse and worse and their doing something like this indicates their ethics are slipping pretty much too so I am letting my subscription lapse, despite the almost daily barrage of “THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE!!!” messages.

  2. imforbigblue - May 16, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Yes I know what you mean and I let mine go months ago and still get tons of junk mail from them

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