Coach: Terps got a 'steal' in Parker
Tony Squire has coached his fair share of talented players in the past.
Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire and Ray Allen all suited up for the Squires Boys Basketball Foundation -- an AAU program based in Richmond, Va. -- at one time or another, not to mention countless other former and current Division I players who donned the uniform.
The next great Squires alumnus could be Mychal Parker, a 6-foot-6 small forward from the Miller School in Charlottesville, Va., who committed to Maryland late Wednesday night.
“I think it’s a great catch for Maryland,” Squire said. “I don’t think Mike has reached that plateau like so many guys do at that age. He still has a ways to go and it’s nothing but upside in his game. I think he should come in and be able to help Maryland right away as a true freshman.”
Parker, the No. 53 player in the 2010 class according to Rivals.com, picked the Terps over offers from Virginia, Clemson, Miami and several others. The four-star prospect finished his AAU campaign this summer with the Ohio Basketball Club, where he has family in the area. But Parker spent most of his past four summers with the Squires.
In Squire’s opinion, Parker most resembles one of those aforementioned NBA standouts.
“I’ll say this lightly, because I don’t get caught up in prose when kids are in high school because I believe you have to crawl before you walk and take the necessary steps,” Squire said. “But he reminds me of a similar version of Ray Allen at this stage in the game. Ray just had that demeanor back in high school. Certain games Ray would take over, and in other games he would just be a good player, and I think that’s the thing with Mike right now. ... [I’ve seen him] take over games on several occasions, and that’s the part of Mike’s game that’s going to come with maturity, being more consistent. He can be the type of kid to take over the game.”
Parker comes from rural Washington, N.C., population 10,000. He spent his freshman year at Southside High, a public school, and his sophomore season at Terra Ceia Christian School. Parker’s father, Omar, was looking for a school that would give his son greater exposure for basketball. Squire pointed the Parkers in the Miller School’s direction. According to Squire, Parker has benefited from his father’s basketball awareness and knowledge.
“He comes from an old-school parent,” Squire said. “Mike’s dad would get up early in the morning and work him out. Then they’d take a break, rest, eat lunch and do all that other stuff. And then in the evening Mike’s dad would work him out again and do the same thing all over again. ... He never missed a workout, so the sky’s going to be the limit for him. Maryland just got a steal.”
One of Squire’s greatest success stories from his time as an AAU coach was Bambale Osby, the former Maryland center. Osby grew up in a rough part of Richmond, Va., but played AAU ball with the Squires and eventually earned a scholarship to New Mexico. He spent freshman year in Albuquerque and his sophomore season at Paris (Texas) Junior College before transferring to UM, where he averaged 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a senior. The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder recently signed a contract to play in Germany’s top pro league.
While the games of Osby and Parker couldn’t be more different, their attitudes are close to identical. Squire expects Parker to have similar success at UM -- thanks in large part to the man in charge in College Park.
“It’s a different breed of kid now because so many kids have the choice of going the wrong way,” Squire said. “Bambale Osby was a prime example. He didn’t come from a lot, so he had to work. We had to get him working ... doing things the old-school way. ... And that’s why Bambale Osby plays the way he plays. He took [ownership of his life] and he appreciated the type of [opportunity he got at Maryland]. For a guy like me, looking at coaches, there are certain guys you just come to admire after being in the game for a long time, and Gary Williams has always been one of those guys.
“You never have to worry about the kid talking back or having any disciplinary problems. He listens and he wants to learn and get better. Having a coach like Gary Williams, who won’t spoil you, who won’t kiss your tail, [will be great for Parker]. I think Gary Williams is going to bring out the best in Mychal Parker. By the time Mike’s a sophomore, get ready to see a major type of guy.”
According to Squire, Virginia was Parker’s leader for most his junior season -- until coach Dave Leitao left Charlottesville. Leitao’s replacement, former Washington State coach Tony Bennett kept the Cavaliers in contention, but the Terps began to emerge as a favorite soon after.
“He’s been saying Maryland was in the lead [for awhile] because ever since he went up there to their elite camp, he liked the campus [and was comfortable],” Squire said. “He made visits to a few places. He went to Virginia’s elite camp and he went to Maryland and he really loves it up there. And I think Mike sees that he can come in and be an integral part of Maryland early.”