It’s a little after midnight, and I just got off the phone with new UCLA commit De’End Parker. Quite frankly…wow. What an interview, what a bright, energetic kid. Little did I know, my mom lived a block from him in San Francisco for the last five years, so we probably ran into each other once or twice. You’ll enjoy this interview. Here’s part two…
JG: You come to UCLA next season to pretty much fill out the roster, depending if a couple guys go to the NBA, but you’ll be a junior; do you expect to come in and try to produce right away?
DP: “I’ve been battle-tested all my life. I’ve clearly never been in a situation like UCLA, but I’m definitely up for the challenge. That’s the kind of person I am. The kind of player I am. I’m always going to try to rise to the occasion. As far as being able to come in and produce right away, they wouldn’t have recruited if they didn’t think I could. I mean, they don’t even recuit junior college players. Pretty much just Jones, now. I’m feeling pretty comforable with my decision. I’m going to be happy. I know I’m going to be happy.”
JG: There’s a lot of talk about what position you’ll play at UCLA. You play point guard now, but do you anticipate a move to the wing?
DP: “In high school I played wing and I was the primary scorer. It flipped the script when I went to City College; a lot of national JCs wanted to keep me at that position (wing). When I went to City they wanted me to play point guard, because they said my basketball IQ is great. I really know what’s going on on the floor. It’s been working out; people have been able to see more parts of my game. It bettered me. It expanded my game. People are being able to see, “He’s a great passer, he can defend the position.” I’ll be happy if they want me to play the one, two or three.”
JG: Where do you anticipate to start? UCLA loses two junior point guards after next season, so there will likely be that spot open…
DP: Coming in this year after talking to coaches, the position they would probably have me at is wing, but if they need me at the point, I’ll do it. It bettered my looks in college, and it will better my looks for the future. Whartever they have in store for me will be the best for me.”
JG: You’re from the Bay Area (whereupon we talk about the neighborhood for 15 minutes, finding out we lived a block from each other) and you would expect maybe a Cal fan or a Stanford fan, yet you talk about UCLA as your dream school, a no-brainer. How did you become a fan?
DP: “Well you know man, coming from where I’m from, not a lot of people get out of here and make it. The UCLA thing, when you watch the NBA, you see a lot of players from UCLA. When you think about the history, how many have been drafted, UCLA has the most. You can never overlook that. You must be doing something right if you have the most. You have to be doing something right. I want to know really bad, so I’m going to go down there and find out.”