Jan. 27, 2010
By Bo Jessee
Jaquon Parker's emergence as the Bearcats' starting point guard in the last two games came as a surprise to some, especially since the freshman saw his first minutes of Big East action five games into the conference schedule.
But Parker's feat is even more impressive considering the 6-foot-3 guard was just a junior at King's Fork high school in Suffolk, Va. last season.
After being held back a grade in elementary school, Parker was too old to be eligible for his senior season and the other schools recruiting him assumed he was going to attend prep school for the 2009-10 season.
Then associate head coach Larry Davis did some investigating and found out that Parker was just three classes shy of graduating from King's Fork and had already passed the Virginia state exit exam and SAT.
So instead of playing another season of high school ball, Davis gave Parker the opportunity to come play for the Bearcats this year as long as he passed his last three classes over the summer.
For Parker, it was an easy decision.
"When I took my visit I really enjoyed the campus and enjoyed the players," Parker said. "I wanted to play in the toughest conference in America and I had the confidence in my game that I could do that."
The transition from high school ball to college ball, however, has not been so easy.
Parker played sparingly during the non-conference portion of the schedule, logging more than 10 minutes in just four of the team's first 11 games.
The biggest difference for Parker is the speed of the game.
"Everybody is just as big and strong as you are and it is so much faster," Parker said. "So much stuff is going on and the games are just moving so fast, it seems everything is coming at you all at once."
Once Big East play started things got even more difficult for Parker, who did not play a single minute in the first four conference games.
Although he didn't make it into the first four Big East games, Parker said he never became frustrated with coach Mick Cronin's decisions.
"Coach Cronin puts you in a situation where you can be successful," Parker said. "So far he's done that. I've always trusted that he is going to put you in a situation that you can handle. He puts you in a situation where you can do your best."
Parker said he finally started to feel comfortable playing at the college level during the game at St. John's, when he got his first chance to play against Big East competition.
"I know I didn't play much," said Parker, who scored two points in three minutes of action against St. John's. "But that game gave me the confidence I needed and then I thought I could really play with the guys in the Big East."
In the next game, Parker scored five points in 12 minutes against Notre Dame. He was then inserted into the starting lineup and had his breakout game at home against South Florida.
Parker had 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and five assists with no turnovers in 35 minutes against the Bulls.
Now a starter, Parker said his increased focus has allowed him to adjust to the speed of the game at the college level.
"You have to be focused every single play," Parker said. "If you take one play off or look down or something it's easy for an opponent to just go past you or make a play on you. So you have to know what's going on at all times."