Jordan Parks playing more like namesake as season progresses

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 06:29 AM

When N.C. Central blew the doors off N.C. A&T on Wednesday, Eagles hybrid guard Jordan Parks had 17 points, 7 rebounds and the flu.

“That was the best flu game since Michael Jordan's,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.

In the 1997 NBA Finals, Jordan played Game 5 with what was said to be the flu. He scored 38 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer that allowed the Chicago Bulls to gain the upper hand in the series they won in Game 6.

Parks, named after Jordan, wasn’t expected to be in the lineup against A&T. The junior from Queens, N.Y., had been knocked on his back with a103-degree fever, Moton said. He threw-up in the weight room and had a spell when his eyes rolled to the back of his head, the coach said.

But NCCU’s trainers cleared Parks to play against A&T, and he told Moton that he wanted a piece of the Eagles’ main rival.

Parks, a transfer from the two-year College of Central Florida, did what he does, flushing lobs from NCCU point guard Emanuel Chapman in the 84-44 win over the Aggies.

“I’m just doing my job,” Parks said. “It may come off a little flashy or electrifying to y’all, but that’s what I do to help my team go out there and play hard.”
Parks (6-7, 200) is averaging 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

“Energy. Energy,” Moton said, describing Parks.

The transition from junior college to Division I ball was a little rough for Parks, but he’s rounding into big-boy basketball shape right on schedule, Moton said.

“Juco kids, I always say they get comfortable after Martin Luther King Day. That’s every juco kid,” Moton said. “If you look at Alfonzo (Houston), he was terrible until after Martin Luther King Day.”

Houston, a senior guard for NCCU, is averaging 10.6 points per game.

By MLK Day — observed annually on the third Monday in January — juco transfers have been in enough Division I contests to where they’re not overanalyzing the game, Moton said. Parks has a fluid style, but Moton said he started the season looking rather mechanical because he was on the court thinking too much about his moves. Moton said he told Parks to just go out there and play.

“The athleticism that he’s displaying now, a lot of people probably didn’t expect that of him, because when you’re an athlete and you’re thinking, you’re just a thinking man,” Moton said. “Now he’s just playing. He’s being aggressive. He’s getting some steals, getting some deflections and really igniting our crowd, which is fueling us on the defensive end, as well.”

Defense is the main deal for a blue-collar, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference squad like NCCU, Moton said.

Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell today will arrive at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium with a team that can drive, dish and shoot the ball. Moton said it will be imperative for NCCU (12-5, 3-1 MEAC) to show up on the defensive end in order to win the game (4 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com).

Coppin State (6-12, 3-2 MEAC) will be looking to put a blemish on NCCU’s 8-0 run at home this season.

NCCU held A&T leading scorer Richaud Pack to five points, all of them free throws. He entered the game averaging 17.7 points per game.
Moton’s guys were tough enough on defense to force A&T into a shot-clock violation.

“That’s always the pride and joy of a coach, to do it for 35 seconds,” Moton said. “A lot of teams defend for seven seconds. A lot of teams defend for 15, and then some defend for 25. But you’ve got to hang your hat and commit yourself to defending for 35 seconds and finishing that possession. When you get a shot-clock violation, that kind of exemplifies all the principles, all the hard work, all the discipline that you’ve put into that defensive end.”

That kind of defense speaks to what Moton said about NCCU being a blue-collar team, and the way Parks fought through the flu demonstrated that he’s willing to roll up his sleeves and put on a hard hat.

Chapman, NCCU’s all-time leader in assists with 521, claimed he helped dish out some treats that sweetened the deal for Parks’ comeback from the flu.

“All we had to do was give him some candy,” Chapman said. “Candy really energizes him. So you give him, like, some Skittles, some Sour Patches, and he’s good to go. He jumps out the gym.”