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Jabari Parker is defended by Andrew Wiggins during the McDonald's All-American Games on Wednesday, April 4, 2013, at the United Center. Stacia Timonere/for Sun Times Media  

Jabari Parker’s domination of the state tournament didn’t seem to endear him to the fans in Peoria. Parker left with four state titles in four years, but didn’t enjoy a standing ovation as he left the court for the final time last month.

That wasn’t a problem Wednesday at the United Center. The crowd was on Parker’s side throughout the night, even quieting down late in the second half to listen to him speak in a canned feature on the Jumbotron.

“It was like homecoming,” Parker said. “I know I represented all the high school players and the city of Chicago.”

Parker finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals while helping his West team to a 110-99 victory over the East.
Parker’s highly-publicized matchup with No. 1 prospect Andrew Wiggins ended in a draw. Wiggins finished with more points, but didn’t show an all-around floor game. Parker was also effective guarding Wiggins.

“[The matchup against Wiggins] went pretty good,” Parker said. “He is super athletic so I had to overcommit on the drive but then he can shoot so it was really difficult.”

Wiggins scored 19 points, shooting 6 for 10 from the floor and 7 for 8 from the line.

“Me and Jabari we are friends, both great players,” Wiggins said. “I know I’m going to see his face a lot at the next level and the level after that. I consider it a great learning experience. I’m just glad to be here. Going against Jabari is just the best going against the best.”

San Jose’s Aaron Gordon out-shined both players, finishing with 24 points and several highlight slams for the West.

For the first 10 minutes of the first half, Parker played a complementary role, rebounding and assisting. He also missed a handful of shots.

With 9:45 to play in the half, Parker grabbed a rebound and drove the baseline for a dunk. The dunk seemed to give him confidence, and he started attacking Wiggins.

Wiggins is considered the superior athlete to Parker, faster and more explosive. So it was a surprise when Wiggins tried to blow by Parker and get to the basket and couldn’t. Wiggins made his crossover move, and Parker was right there, still in front of him. Parker was called for the foul, but that’s a major moral victory for his status as a high-level NBA lottery pick.

Just one possession later, the situation was reversed. Parker was the player with the ball on the perimeter and Wiggins was guarding. Parker blew by Wiggins, who was forced to try and stop him with his hands. A foul was called and Parker drained both free throws.

Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty, who coached the West squad, enjoyed finally getting a chance to coach Parker.

“It was great playing for coach Mike,” Parker said. “A lot of people don’t know I was about to go to Mount Carmel if I didn’t go to Simeon.”

Parker teased the media during the press conference, dropping a hint that he may be back playing in Chicago sooner than expected possibly next season with Duke.

“It’s not bittersweet,” Parker said. “I think I have another game soon. It’s on the [down low] right now.”

Parker had a chance to put an exclamation point on his career as the clock wound down. He had the ball on a fast break with 34 seconds to play, a clear path to the basket ahead of him.

But Parker, ever the humble star, passed off to Nigel Williams-Goss. He claimed he never considered slamming home his final high school points.

“No, I just wanted to play the overall game,” Parker said. “I knew he was ahead of me and it would be selfish if I took it all the way myself.”

 

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