June 25 has come and gone.
The Dallas Mavericks’ 52nd pick has come and gone…
…landing Satnam Singh, and hoping he’ll develop to be a decent big man (although me, playing as a FOE in my head says he’ll be a career back-up at best, Hamed Haddadi or Hasheem Thabeet at worst). After all he’s only 19.
But what hasn’t been gone is the collective groan and hype of the Philippines for that kid named Bobby Ray Parks, you know, the guy local press were calling “mini-LeBron?”
“Bakit hindi siya na-pick?”
“Mas magaling pa siya dun sa Indian (for political purposes I am totally editing this quote)!”
I can never say if Parks had more in his tank and game than Satnam has but one thing’s clear for the Mavs: they want height. They want rim protection. And they followed their heads instead of gratifying a nation’s silly pride. Tyson Chandler is aging and you have to look elsewhere to find that next guy who would back up his replacement while still in the “sponge” stage of player development.
7’2″ is 7’2″ and 6’4″ is 6’4″. It would’ve been a different story if the 6’4″ came through with his D-1 Letter of Intent.
Alas, that’s where this sad, and #PinoyPride enraging story, begins.
GOLDEN CHANCE TURNED TO STONE
Nobody saw it coming.
Bobby Ray Parks was tearing up Memphis alongside the state’s best recruit, Adonis Thomas. He was mighty impressive in a Nike Invitational, the Nike Global Challenge at Hillsboro, Ore., putting up 22.0 PPG, shooting a blistering 44.4% from downtown as per Luke Winn’s recounting.
But what really impressed people at the Global Challenge was that Parks got to the rim anytime he wanted to, as evidence by his 8.7 free throw attempts a game, headlining the All-Asia team.
Here’s a 6’4″ combo guard who barely weighed 200 lbs but powered his way to the lane when he wanted to, and had a good shooting touch to keep his defenses honest. For what it was worth, he competed ably against the likes of Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal.
Where did those two guys go?
Davis headed to Lexington, to play for Cal and power Kentucky to the 2012 National Title alongside the likes of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Darius Miller (now a Summer League teammate of Junior), and Alex Poythress (who’s currently prepping for his senior year after blowing up his ACL).
Beal? He teamed up with Patric Young, Scott Wilbekin and current Oklahoma City Thunder coach, Billy Donovan to tow the Gators to at least an Elite Eight finish in his stay.
What was the difference between the three players of that Class of 2011?
Two went to D-1 schools and beefed up their basketball resume’s while the other went to the Philippines and played for a college mired in ignominy, as the school he picked was suffering a 50 plus-year title drought, as opposed to choosing to honor his commitment to Georgia Tech.
Yes, Parks had Georgia Tech already in his pocket. He was about to play point guard for a hypothetical three-year stay (since collegians tended to cash in while having a great sophomore and junior season in prominent programs) in a team that badly needed warm bodies after Paul Hewitt’s departure.
Let’s go to NU. Try to turn that sordid school’s athletic state around instead of heading to Atlanta to beef up your basketball career, fine-tune your flaws, and play against top-notch competition.
Instead of having a shot to be a mid-late 1st rounder kind of career trajectory for a Georgia Tech outfit sorely lacking bodies for the lead guard job, let’s turn that into an out-of-position small forward trying to go 5-on-1 every time down and pad those stats at the expense of advanced metrics that the Americans live by. That in turn makes you a late 2nd-Draft afterthought or asterisk.
Junior renounced his National Letter of Intent (NLI), the letter that documents a recruit’s choice of school to attend prior to his/her freshman year, to join Senior at NU, because Bobby Sr. acted as development consultant for the Bulldogs.
It was weird, especially to me. The NLI is something high school athletes fight for every practice, every game, every possession. You had it. But you chose to let it pass.
We all knew pops was sick. Yes, he sacrificed too much just to be with his ailing father and that is commendable in its way.
Senior still thought that it was possible for Junior to return to the US and still play college ball in the NCAA as a transferee. A collegiate hopeful’s five-year window in the NCAA starts running the moment he has enrolled. That’s what happened when Junior successfully became the new face of the Bulldogs’ team for Season 74-76.
He could’ve stayed two years, got another letter, offer, something, that would’ve made him fly to the US, redshirt for a year, then play two more years of college basketball in front of NBA scouts and front office executives.
But it never happened.
No one bothered to call him up again after disappearing with nary a word and dropping his NLI. Brian Gregory, the Yellow Jackets’ head coach during Winn’s article was even quoted as saying “Can I call you right back? I have a recruit on the other line who’s not in the Philippines.”
Boy, he sure did get pissed off. And that may have made Junior’s outlook at another NCAA Division 1 shot bleak. It destroyed that hope.
Ray Ray played for the Bulldogs for three years. He was overhyped coming in, I guess that’s how being a seven-time PBA Best Import’s son plays out in the country. Or well, just having a recognizable name like a politician, and it generates what, a thousand retweets or superlatives to be written about him?
Parks was good. He wasn’t ranked 117th in Rivals.com’s Top 150 recruits if he wasn’t. There’re a lot of schools to choose from if you land in that category. It does mean something.
ESPN even rated the combo guard out of Memphis as a four-star recruit with a scout rating of 92 (30th in positional ranking), so we were practically dealing with a big fish in a small pond here with his entry to the UAAP. But that just wasn’t the case game-wise.
Parks did not play the game that made him a top 150 recruit. He surely did not play with the attitude that he was a nobody playing with a nationally-acclaimed recruit in Adonis Thomas and was quietly making a name for himself without him knowing it. He played in the UAAP to stat-pad, to look good, something that someone with something to prove does, albeit in a wrong manner.
He burst into the scene and put up 20.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, and a combined 2.2 block/steal average while turning the ball 2.8 times a game. Not to mention, that jumpshot we mentioned above? He shot 41.7% overall and a really depressing 29% from downtown. He did pick up the offense for the Bulldogs when he was on the floor (109.7 compared to their average of 87.5, with the UAAP average ORTG at 86.2 in Season 74) and wasn’t a black hole on defense (83.6 compared to the team’s 83.8 and the league’s 86.2).
But the efficiency man. 20 points for 13 shots sure sound okay enough, but he only made five a game. And this was supposed to be “mini LeBron.” NCAA players had far more efficient outings than the supposed Savior of NU basketball (and by extension, Philippine Basketball).
Parks never cracked the 30% ceiling when it came to shooting from downtown as his career progressed in the UAAP ranks. His successive showings were a 28.7% outing in Season 75 and bottomed out completely at 27.3% in his last year (Season 76).
The same can be said for his overall shooting performance (39.4% in S75, 35.9% in S76) and offensive impact to the team (went down to 102.8 and 103.9 in the following seasons). His rebounding numbers and assist numbers picked up (7.2 RPG and 8.o RPG; 4.4 APG and 3.8 APG, respectively) in his last two seasons, but it didn’t translate to a championship. All it translated to was a MVP award.
To be fair to Bobby Ray, he was great in a team-defense setting, always a positive on that end of the floor for NU. But you’re just left…wanting.
He could’ve done more.
He could’ve averaged 30-8-6 while shooting better than 47% from the floor and making a higher percentage of threes if only he selected better spots.
But here we are.
THE WOULD HAVE BEENS
Would it have been different had he chose to go with G-Tech instead of NU?
Would it have been better to follow in the foot steps of G-Tech guard lore such as Stephon Marbury, Travis Best, Jarret Jack, Tom Hammond, Brian Oliver, Kenny Anderson, and Mark Price?
Would it have been better if he ran alongside Iman Shumpert (who was poised to have one of those All-American senior years had he elected to stay) instead of the likes of Cedric Labing-isa (where the hell is that guy?), Kyle Neypes, Jeff Javillonar (seriously?), and Lee Villamor (who)?
I still think that a Parks-Shumpert guard combo would’ve done wonders for Georgia Tech. What a menace that would be defensively, to contend with the length (both guys are at least 6’4″ with longer wingspan). Offensively, it would be a dream made in heaven.
Either could carry the ball, set the table, and find teammates, or each other for efficient scoring opportunities. That would’ve been an immediate draft stock boost and it would be all the more doubled by a Tournament invite and say, at least getting to the Sweet Sixteen.
Nice shoulda-woulda-coulda’s, yeah?
But wait, what did Parks’ move to NU prove? Did it prove that he was great at one aspect of the game to merit a role in today’s NBA (last time I checked, you had to be really, really elite at least one or two aspects of the game, say, a 3-and-D wing)? Or it did it prove that Nike Global Challenge was just somewhere up in the clouds?
Is he willing to share the damn rock without turning it more than it actually reaches its target? Is he trusty enough to find a spot, be a catch-and-shoot guy with the ability to create his own offense if worse comes to worse?
Or would he be a poor, homeless man’s Trey Burke?
I know what you’re thinking right now. So many questions, very few answers.
Because that’s what we’re dealing with. There are very few answers to the questions surrounding Bobby Ray Parks that was rooted to his decision to play for NU.
If I were a front office executive (I swear to God, I play with it in my head, just give me a month to clean your team up. I’m kidding.), I won’t draft someone who could’ve blown up in college as a lead guard but chose to play in some obscure school while amassing stats but pretty much showing bad habits that MIGHT translate to the pros.
I’m not going to draft someone whose shooting continued to plummet, year after year, whose decision-making is suspect to even play the position for his height (point guard), while dominating possessions for ungodly rates but gives back nothing.
Sure, I’ll give him a chance in Summer League. But he’ll be behind a surer product in Kevin Pangos in terms of rotational issues. He might get some burn, yeah, maybe 10-15 minutes. But that’s all there is to it. Maybe if he played for a prominent program while following through with his Nike Global Challenge performance, then hell yes I’m gambling my 52nd pick to plug up a hole in my roster.
BLEAK, BLEAK OUTLOOK
The chances of Bobby Ray actually landing a training camp invite (which means he passed the Summer League evaluation) is really, really, really slim.
With all the undrafted rookies and free agents with non-guaranteed contracts playing, some might even bump him off the Mavs’ radar. They might find someone as big as him, as strong as him, but shoots better, decides better, picks spots better.
He can still make it, yes, but the fact is, that window’s almost, but not quite, closed.
If he took the PJ Hairston route (get drafted in D-League, impress, move up to the pro Draft), it would’ve been a better outlook. But not like this.
Not like this.
The #PinoyPride moment has to wait.
Let’s stop firing up the hype machine that has totally turned over and screwed itself.