By Justice Bolden:
University of Memphis men’s basketball Tigers Coach Tubby Smith and his coaching staff continue to stockpile talent for the upcoming season 2017-18. Memphis has landed their seventh commitment and yet another big man in 6-foot-9 270-pound center Mike Parks Jr., who played for Southwest Mississippi Community College as a sophomore.
He originally signed with the New Mexico, but was given his release back on Tuesday April 18 following the departure of Coach Craig Neal, who was fired at the end of March. Coach Joe Esposito, who served as the primary recruiter for the services of Parks Jr., waisted no time in working toward securing the services of the former Lobos’ signee.
Parks Jr. owns a massive frame, and plays bigger than his size due to a an enormous 7-foot-1 wingspan. He finished in the top 10 in the national junior college ranks in field goal percentage at nearly 65%, making him one of the most efficient junior college big man in the nation.
Parks Jr. average 9 and 4 rebounds in just 19 minutes per game, and the Tigers will be expecting him to step in and produce at a similar efficiency in the American Athletic Conference next season. He reportedly entered this season at Southwest Mississippi at nearly 300-pounds, but reportedly focused on conditioning and dropped nearly 35 pounds during the season.
Parks Jr. averaged 22 points as a high school senior at Richmonds Heights which is just a few miles from nearby Cleveland, Ohio. During his senior campaign, he also was named the District IV player of the year and was named First-Team All-Ohio by the Associated Press in 2015.
The Memphis Tigers who lacked depth and size on their roster in 2016-17, have added six players onto their next seasons roster that are 6-foot-7 or better. Junior college transfer Raynere Thornton and freshman David Nickelberry are two 6-foot-7 signees that will likely compete for the starting small forward position.
First Team junior College All-American Kyvon Davenport and 230-pound freshman Victor Enoh are a pair of 6-foot-8 signees that will compete with senior Jimario Rivers for minutes at the power forward position.
Parks Jr. will compete for minutes at center with 6-foot-11, 250-pound Karim Azab, who sat out last season at Memphis, but owns a pair of massive hands and is reportedly in great shape this spring.
The Tigers also added a pair of scoring guards in first team junior college All-American Kareem Brewton, a 6-foot-3 guard with a lethal mid-range game, and 6-foot-4 Jamal Johnson, who was one of the top five seniors in the state of Alabama as a high school senior.
The Memphis Tigers are still pursuing a guard for the 2017 class, and hope to land an official visit from four-star Amauri Hardy, a 6-foot-2 point guard out of Michigan, who was previously committed to Oklahoma State.