BTW's Juwan Parker headlines local basketball signees
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Thursday, November 15, 2012
11/15/12 at 5:43 AM
Booker T. Washington's Juwan Parker, Jenks' Jessica Washington and East Central's Bria Pitts signed on Wednesday to play major college basketball.
Parker, the Tulsa World's 2011 state boys player of the year, signed with Georgia. Washington, the World's 2012 metro girls player of the year, signed with North Carolina. Pitts, who helped lead East Central to its third straight Class 5A state title game appearance, signed with Arkansas.
Wednesday was the first day of the Early Signing Period that continues through Nov. 21. The next basketball signing period starts April 17.
The 6-foot-4 Parker, who averaged 20.5 points and 9.4 rebounds last season, visited Georgia in June. He committed to the Bulldogs over Memphis and Stanford in August.
"Juwan is a very complete shooting guard," Georgia coach Mark Fox said in a press release. "His ability to shoot and score will be welcomed on the wing. I feel good about the versatility he will bring to that position for us."
Parker plans to major in business although he hasn't decided which field - management information systems or accounting. He says he wasn't ever tempted to switch his commitment during the past three months.
"Once I'm committed, I'm committed," said Parker, who helped the Hornets win Class 5A state titles in 2010 and '11. "And I think everyone else knew it was a done deal."
Parker said his brother, Jason, one of the top 15 scorers in TU history, was "instrumental" in helping in the recruiting process.
"He had been through it so he told me what to look out for in a school and what I needed to watch out for," Juwan Parker said.
He said that Fox told him that he will be given a chance to start immediately, but by halfway through his freshman year or sophomore year he will also be playing point guard.
"I am excited to play in the SEC," he said.
And so is Pitts, a 5-8 guard who changed her commitment from Mississippi to Arkansas during the past week after an academic scandal in the Ole Miss basketball program. Pitts visited Arkansas last Friday.
"I am so happy that I've signed," Pitts said. "This has been stressful. I am not the type who likes the recruiting process so as soon as I figured out what I wanted to do I jumped right on it.
"Ole Miss is where I wanted to go, but the situation that happened changed my mind. When I went to Arkansas, I really liked it down there. It happened really quick. I liked the team and how welcoming the coaches are. I also liked the dorms a lot and the academics. Now I can just worry about playing good this season instead of worrying about where I need to go later on."
Pitts, who suffered her second major knee injury (a torn anterior cruciate ligament) in last season's semifinals, averaged 14.5 points, 6.2 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 steals for East Central as a junior.
"She's doing really well," East Central coach Samy Mack said. "She's been a big blessing to our program."
Washington, a 5-8 point guard, said Wednesday was a special day after signing with North Carolina.
"It's my dream school. I was pretty much raised to be a Tar Heel (by father Travis, a North Carolina native), so it's like a dream come true," she said.
Last season, she averaged 18.4 points as she led the Trojans to a 21-7 record and their first 6A state tournament appearance since 2007. Just as Parker did during his junior season, Washington also surpassed 1,000 career points. She also has more than 300 career assists.
Rated one of the top point guards in the 2013 recruiting class, Washington earned one of 12 spots on the USA Basketball Women's U17 team and competed in the world championships last summer.
Washington could have chosen almost any school in the country. She said she also visited Notre Dame and considered Oklahoma and UCLA.
"Jessica is a student of the game who has a fantastic basketball IQ," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said in a press release. "She's a great passer and ball-handler who can also hurt a defense with her ability to score."
Washington receives high marks from analysts for her fluid ball-handling skills.
"I've worked hard on my ball handling with my dad ever since I was younger," she said.
There were four other area high school senior girls who were major college basketball signees on Wednesday - Bixby's Stevi Parker with Tulsa and Christina Devers with Central Arkansas, Cascia Hall's Liesl Spoerl with Tulsa and Union's I'mani Davis with Tennessee State.
Devers averaged 20 points per game and was a World All-State third-team selection. Parker and Davis were World All-State honorable mention picks.
World Sports Writer Mike Brown contributed to this story.
Original Print Headline: BTW's Parker headlines signees
Barry Lewis 918-581-8393
With trophies and his family at his side, Booker T. Washington basketball standout Juwan Parker signs his letter of intent with Georgia during a ceremony at the high school on Wednesday. MICHAEL WYKE/ Tulsa World