TULSA — Steven Parker came out of the Jenks locker room after Tuesday night’s basketball game battered.
Parker had ice packs on his left shoulder and left side after taking a hard hit under the basket late in the Trojans’ 65-63 loss to Tulsa Union.
But Parker had a weight lifted off his shoulders.
Earlier in the day, the state’s top football player and the No. 6 safety in the country according to Rivals.com, announced that he would sign with Oklahoma on Wednesday. He chose the Sooners over Auburn and Texas A&M.
“As it started getting closer and closer and as time got even closer, it started building up more stress and then my studies also kind of affected that,” Parker said after scoring 20 points.
Trojans coach Clay Martin could see a difference.
“He just reacted tonight and he hasn’t done that all year,” Martin said. “He’s had so much going on and he’s just to be commended for everything he’s gone through and tonight he just played. He relaxed and played and shows that he is, when he’s good he can be one of the premier players around.”
Parker said basketball would be the primary focus for the next couple of months, but football will have his attention for at least one more day.
After making his announcement in a ceremony just after noon, Parker immediately turned from the hunted to the hunter.
Five-star running back Joe Mixon, who committed to the Sooners in early January, had been working on Parker for most of the last month, trying to convince him to come to OU.
Parker is now doing the same with Douglass defensive end Deondre Clark, the No. 2 player in The Oklahoman’s Super 30 recruiting rankings. Clark is committed to LSU but has left the door open, saying he’s considering Oklahoma, Arizona State and Ole Miss as well as the Tigers.
“I’ve been working on Deondre a little bit,” Parker said. “It’s pretty tough. I know he’s going through some trouble at home and I pray for him and hopefully everything will be OK.”
Clark’s older brother, Stevie, was dismissed from the Oklahoma State basketball team earlier this week after an arrest.
Parker wasn’t the only OU commit on the floor at the Union Multipurpose Activity Center on Tuesday.
The Redskins have a couple of Sooners commitments as well in wide receiver Jeffery Mead and tight end Carson Meier.
“I am so excited that Steven is going to Oklahoma,” Meier said. “I was bugging him about it and giving him a hard time tonight a little bit.” Parker said he made up his mind before a weekend elsewhere, though the trip made things difficult.
“I wanted to take the Auburn visit to make sure,” Parker said. “I say it was a bad visit to take because it was one of those visits where it was so great to where it makes you think twice to what you’re going to do.”
But in the end, Mixon’s arguments helped win out over the chance to play next to Auburn’s Khari Harding, an Edmond Santa Fe product who Parker referred to as his best friend.
“Joe definitely recruited his butt off,” Parker said. “As soon as he went on ahead and committed, I had that thought, ‘They’re putting together a great class. This might be a great class to be a part of.’”
It wasn’t that easy, though.
Mixon didn’t soft-sell the Sooners.
“He knows that if he wants to go to the next level, he’s going to have to make sacrifices,” Parker said. “We all know that sacrifices is what separates the good from the great.”