Russell Woods made Jabari Parker work for his baskets Wednesday at Simeon's tune-up for the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
Nearly a week after his much-hyped announcement that he will play college basketball at Duke next season, Parker was happy to deal with some on-the-court harassment for a change.
"I'm trying to finish stronger at the basket, trying to draw fouls," Parker said. "And Russell's going to push me there because he's so athletic and I have to alter my shot sometimes."
Parker, who sat out practices and games last week while continuing to recover from a fractured right foot, played with Simeon's second team in a full-court scrimmage against the likes of 6-foot-7 first-teamers Woods and Kendall Pollard. He is expected to play Thursday in the Pontiac first round against East Moline United.
He had what coach Robert Smith called one of his best practices in a while, perhaps a credit to his improving conditioning or "positive" feeling following his Dec. 20 college announcement.
Parker said he was at first bothered by some negativity that followed his decision, including criticism on Twitter and in the media for picking Duke, announcing his decision on ESPNU in front of dozens of reporters and saying that he ruled out Michigan State because he didn't want to get into a position battle with Spartans sophomore Branden Dawson.
"It's part of me growing up," said Parker, who looked to his brother, Christian, and the example of LeBron James for guidance when dealing with negativity. "A lot of the jealousy, a lot of the hate just means you're doing something. … I want to keep on maturing and try to deal with it as best as possible."
Parker considered briefly whether he would have changed anything about his announcement, which he referenced as a media frenzy Wednesday. But he returned to his statement that it was necessary because of the level of interest in the commitment.
"Because of the player I am now, I almost have to (hold a big news conference) for everybody to get in and get a story," he said.
Painful Christmas present: Kendrick Nunn's status is up in the air for Simeon's Pontiac opener Thursday after he suffered a bruised left hip while colliding with teammate Rickey Norris at practice Tuesday.
"It's pretty painful right now, but it depends on how I feel," Nunn said of playing over the weekend.
Nunn spent Wednesday working out in Simeon's pool and doing some light shooting instead of practicing with his teammates.
"If he doesn't go (Thursday), it won't be a big issue," Smith said.
He said it: "We get a little more time with the kids down there. The community gets to see some of the top players. … We try to do as much autographs and as much picture-taking as possible. We want to be part of the Pontiac family and show we care about them too." — Parker on the atmosphere at the Pontiac Tournament.
Simeon vs. East Moline United
Where: Pontiac Holiday Tournament, Pontiac, Ill.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Records: Simeon 5-1, United 2-9.
Mike Helfgot's quick take: Simeon beat United 71-33 in a second-round Pontiac game last year on the way to the championship. The Wolverines are a huge draw in Pontiac, and the faithful should get a long look at the program's future in what almost certainly will not be a competitive game. Kendrick Nunn (hip) might be limited, but Jabari Parker (foot) is expected to return from a two-game hiatus, according to coach Robert Smith.