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Great expectations: Basketball prodigy Jabari Parker relies on faith, family as he rides wave of adulation

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Jabari Parker finds a quiet corner in his Chicago home to text friends on March 3, 2012. There are more religious reminders than there are basketball awards in the Parkers' South Shore neighborhood house. One exception is the MVP trophy Jabari earned while leading the U.S. to the gold medal at the FIBA Americans U-16 championship on the dining room credenza, sitting beneath a large print of Jesus asking The Rich Man to give all he had to the poor.

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Parker stands before a television spotlight for an interview after he led his team to an Illinois State High School super-sectional tournament win on March 13, 2012.

Andrew Seligman of The Associated Press reports — This is what it's like to be Jabari Parker, the nation's top high school basketball player.

 One day he's presenting a project in his Spanish class, turns around and sees Alonzo Mourning. Parker takes a seat and grins. The former Miami Heat star is making a surprise visit to give him the Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year award.

And there are nights like this.

Parker and his teammates from Simeon Career Academy are holed up in a classroom after beating Whitney Young in the Illinois state playoffs.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State's Tom Izzo were in the stands. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife were there, too, sitting next to Parker's mom, Lola.

As Simeon holds its postgame meeting, a crowd gathers in the hallway, waiting to get a glimpse of the team and its 17-year-old star. Parker slips out a back entrance, trying to make a quiet exit.

Nice try, but no luck. It's hard to hide when you're 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds. Continue reading.

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Parker celebrates with his Simeon Career Academy teammates after winning an Illinois state super sectional playoff game on March 13, 2012. For all the attention Jabari gets, Simeon coach Robert Smith says: "He doesn't want this to be about him. He wants it to be about the team."

M. Spencer Green / AP

Parker walks down the school hallway after he was named the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year on April 12, 2012.

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Parker sits in solitude, preparing mentally during player introductions for the Chicago City Championship basketball game against Proviso East on Feb. 17, 2012.