The San Francisco Chronicle reported last night that City College of San Francisco guard De'End Parker will be making the trip south on the 101 this fall, having verbally committed to the UCLA Basketball program.
In reporting a story about City College of San Francisco men's basketball today, Chronicle writer Vittorio Tafur learned that 6-5 guard De'End Parker de-committed to Cal and verbally agreed to play basketball for UCLA.
Parker, who starred in basketball and football at Lincoln High in San Francisco, decided that it was time to take advantage of an opportunity to live outside the Bay Area.
In the Chronicle's story that followed this reporting, De'End had this to say about coming to Los Angeles:
The team has a lot of San Francisco roots, but in Parker's case, that was one of the reasons he changed his mind about going to Cal.
"It's time to get away," said Parker, who played for Lincoln High in San Francisco. "I thought I wanted to stay close to my family, but now I think it will be good for me to get away. I haven't really been outside of San Francisco, and it will be good for me.
"Cal did nothing wrong. I just realized that UCLA was a better fit for me."
Parker had committed to Cal last week after also being offered by Arizona State, and recruited by the Bruins, though a quote from this Bear Insider article written at the time of his Cal commitment makes it sound doubtful that UCLA had offered De'End prior to his Cal commit.
"... Cal's definitely one of my top choices. Being a local guy, it wouldn't be bad staying out here.
"UCLA and Arizona State are also other schools I'm looking strongly at and Cal and ASU have both offered.
[In his Friday night chat with De'End Parker, Jon Gold confirmed that UCLA had been recruiting him, but had not yet offered a scholarship under the belief that he would not make a decision until the end of the JC postseason.]
Parker played his high school ball at Lincoln High-San Francisco, where he was named his league's MVP as a Senior and thought of as one of San Francisco's best prep basketball players of the past several years, but ended up at City College as an NCAA non-qualifier. After a freshman year at CCSF in which he was named a JC All-American, Parker has played at the point this season, putting up a line of 13 points/8 rebounds/7 assists (or 12/5/5, depending on who/when reported) for the state's top-ranked JC team. Though he has seen most of his playing time of late at point guard, he is supposed to be quite capable at the wing, and Cal was said to have recruited him as such, but also as a player who could also play the point if needed.
Whether he fills the role as a much needed wing player who can pass/an insurance policy in the event that Tyler Honeycutt leaves UCLA after the season (his most likely role, particularly given his 6'5 frame), or a player who - if necessary - can help fill in at point after Zeek and Jerime Anderson graduate, De'end is an intriguing pickup by Coach Howland and his staff.
The San Francisco Chronicle published an article on Parker in 2009, during his senior year in high school, discussing his exceptional - and adaptable - play on the court as well as the struggles faced in his personal life.
At 6-foot-5 and overflowing with basketball instincts, Parker has assumed point-guard duties for the depleted first-place Mustangs after three players were lost to academic ineligibility and another to a broken leg...
... As much as Parker is beating teams with his quick first step and knack for getting to the rim, he's also showing why so many Division I programs are interested: He can pass.
"He's real comfortable in transition and penetrating," Gragnani said. "He can deliver a pass when he's penetrating hard. He's got a God-given instinct."
While a skilled athlete, he also showed a high (maybe too high) level of competitiveness during his high school years:
Parker, who turns 18 next week, was the picture of composure and maturity as the caregiver. Days later, though, he was livid after picking up two early fouls against defending city champion Mission. His coach had to restrain him, and Parker stormed off the court when Mission won the game with a buzzer-beater.
"That's just part of his competitive nature," said Mission coach Arnold Zelaya, who has known Parker since he was a kid. "He was the first one to come out afterward and apologize and give me a hug."
Regardless of his ability on the hardwood, Parker's family life might have been sufficient to attract a newspaper's human interest attention - while giving a little more insight to his failure to earn a qualifying SAT score during high school.
He is the youngest of 10 children whom his guardian Carmen Johnson has raised in her Fillmore district home. Parker has not met his father and has seen his mother only intermittently since he stopped living with her when he was 2. ...
"It's harder to succeed because you've got all the weight on your back, on the court and off the court," Parker said. "I'm supposed to be the thing for my family, because nobody graduated from high school or went to college and was successful like that."
Here's a Youtube clip of De'End on the court during his senior year of high school - look for #21.
CCSF has a webpage full of highlight videos of their basketball team - also look for #21 in those clips.
And to signal The End of this post, a closing note from that SF Chronicle article:
"My (biological) mom didn't know what she was going to call me until the day she had me," said Parker, who is the youngest of seven. "When she was actually having me, she said, 'Man, this is the end, I'm not having any more.' And that's how she got my name - De'End - like 'The End'."
Welcome to Westwood, De'End!
Update - 1am: Apparently I am not the only person hanging around at home, up late on a Friday night with not much else to do. Jon Gold has been burning up his night & weekend minutes, holding a midnight chat with De'End Parker. Jon has posted a transcript of his call in two parts (part one, and part two). I'll leave you to head over to Jon's Daily News blog to grab most of the conversation, but I will say that he seemed quite impressed after talking to De'End. Here's the fun start to that conversation:
Jon Gold: So today is your birthday and you commit to UCLA. Pretty big day...
De'End Parker : "Wow, I commited to UCLA on my birthday (laughing). I'm really excited. I talked to the coaches, after going to my family for information, for support, and everybody is all in with this one. When I committed to Cal, a lot of people were like, "Weeeell..." Once I said UCLA, though, everyone was just going crazy. They love it."