On his way to Finland

Published 6:15 pm Saturday, August 17, 2013

KFHS alum JaQuon Parker to play pro basketball overseas

JaQuon Parker has some notable firsts attached to his name. He was part of the first basketball team at King’s Fork High School to win the state championship. He was the first in his family to go to college on a basketball scholarship.

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with 113 games under his belt, he is now the first former Bulldog to go overseas and play professionally.

Guard JaQuon Parker recently graduated from the University of Cincinnati after 113 games with the Bearcats. The King’s Fork alum will be playing professional basketball in Finland.

Guard JaQuon Parker recently graduated from the University of Cincinnati after 113 games with the Bearcats. The King’s Fork alum will be playing professional basketball in Finland. (UC Sports Communications photo)

Parker recently signed a deal to play in Finland’s top basketball league, Korisliiga, for a team called Kouvot Kouvola.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

“I’m very excited about it,” Parker said. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

Chet Ervin of KMG Sports Management, who helped arrange the deal, said most rookies never get an opportunity to step into a situation like this one.

“He is going to be playing in a league with predominantly veteran players,” Ervin said.

Ervin described Korisliiga as a mid- to high-level league in Europe, because it boasts one Eurocup team and two EuroChallenge teams.

Europe has a three-tier system by which many men’s professional basketball clubs are grouped. The best teams play in the Euroleague, second-tier teams play in Eurocup competitions and third-tier squads play in EuroChallenge competitions.

Ervin said most of the squads in Korisliiga have three to four American players. Some players, American or foreign, may have even played in the National Basketball Association.

Bulldogs head coach Josh Worrell was happy for Parker, saying, “It’s a great opportunity for him. I know he had been waiting a while to sign with the best option.”

Parker said Ervin shopped him around, and Ervin said there was interest from multiple countries.

“We were getting a little bit of interest out of Japan, but when we sat down and looked at it and considered everything, this was the best situation for him,” Ervin said.

The 6’3” Parker appears likely to play point guard, though he said it would be more like a combination of the point and shooting guard positions. It should be an easy transition for him, since he played as a guard at KFHS and as a shooting forward and guard for Cincinnati.

Worrell said the biggest difference from American play for Parker will be the presence of bigger, taller players, many of whom like to play outside. Worrell figures Parker’s strength will be his aggressiveness.

The only significant difference Parker anticipates is the longer three-point line.

Outside of basketball, he will also be taking a significant step, geographically-speaking. Parker said he got some preparation for this when he left home to attend college in Ohio, though he will now be in foreign land.

“I think it will be a bit of a change,” he said, adding, “I think I’ll be OK.”

Worrell advised Parker to make the most of the opportunity because of the immense rewards that could come from it.

“You play well there, you might get picked up by a bigger, better team in another country,” he said.

That country could even be the United States, as Worrell said, “There’s a tremendous amount of NBA scouts over there.”

Parker has already established goals for while he is with Kouvot Kouvola, like averaging 15-20 points a game, but the primary one is simple: “Just win, basically,” he said.

He leaves for Finland on Aug. 30.