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Commentary: Duke wins sweepstakes for star recruit, but dignity loses

By David Haugh, Chicago Tribune Published: December 21, 2012

Parker's well-manicured portrait of uncommon character made Thursday's surprising circus at Simeon all the harder to watch. Didn't coaches from Stanford, BYU, Florida and Michigan State deserve better than to learn on live TV that Parker had turned them down? It was even sadder to hear Parker sound like a pawn when asked why he agreed to the show given that he said, “Everybody knows I hate attention.”

“I almost have to,” Parker said. “It would be selfish for me not to. Me behind closed doors would have been bad for my fans.”

But a more understated, professional announcement that didn't require the go-ahead from an ESPN cameraman would have been truer to who fans have been told Parker is. Lola Parker countered with the only conceivable justification for choreographing The Decision II.

“If he can change one kid to understand your way out is your books, then he has done his job,” she said.

The idea of Parker hitting the books harder than he hits the boards and matriculating to prestigious Duke indeed potentially casts a powerful image for youths in a city where too many dreams and lives end prematurely. If only Parker's decision were about education. But even Parker acknowledged that he would have chosen Michigan State over Duke if not for the presence of sophomore forward Branden Dawson.

“(Dawson) and I play the same position and it would be kind of a controversy if me and him were on the same floor,” Parker said. “That was the main reason I didn't pick them.”

Publicly admitting he perhaps made the right choice for a wrong reason reminded everybody Parker is only 17. He might be a year away from being a millionaire but he is still a teenager prone to impulse and unpredictability.

One day in Parker's wonderful future he might look back on this day of suspenseful silliness and laugh. After he cringes.

MCT Information Services

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