Playing basketball for the Lincoln boys’ basketball team was the furthest thing from Deend Parker’s mind in the middle of September. Parker was a passenger in a car that hit a pole and turned over. After the accident, the junior was kept at San Francisco General Hospital for two weeks, lucky to be alive.
Although he was banged up, he did not sustain any serious injuries. But he was behind in the rigorous preseason weight and conditioning program that Lincoln coach Mike Gragnani had set up for the team.
“His time out cost him the first couple of months of workouts,” said Kevin Doherty, a physical education teacher at Lincoln and the weightlifting and training coach. “His knee was hurt and he suffered internal injuries.”
After a month, Parker was cleared to play, but it took some time to get his legs stronger.
“To his credit, he stayed with the workouts and now he does what he can do,” Doherty said. “He still is not at a full 100 percent, but he is fine.”
Parker’s play has improved week after week for the Mustangs (15-9, 8-1 Academic Athletic Association), who host Wallenberg today at 5:15 p.m. in a battle of two of the conference’s top teams.
“Deend has brought a certain drive to the program,” Gragnani said. “Basketball is really important to him and he has brought that drive and motivation to get better to the program.”
Parker is a long and athletic 6-foot-6 wing who can play inside or out. He has a good jumper, has a solid handle and is a very crisp passer. His jump shot was on display in a 73-64 win against Washington on Jan. 14, when he knocked down five 3-point shots.
“My left knee bothers me a lot, but I am still trying to make a difference on the basketball court,” Parker said. “I have been playing pretty well, shooting the ball, getting to the basket and throwing assists to my teammates.”
Winning is nothing new for Parker. During his freshman year, Parker was a reserve on a Sacred Heart Cathedral team that claimed the NorCal Division III title. His sophomore year, he attended Stuart Hall, but did not play. He decided to transfer to Lincoln for a fresh start this past summer.
“I wanted to go to a bigger school and that is why I left,” said Parker.
At Lincoln, he has thrived on the court and in the classroom. He is also starting to receive recruiting interest from various basketball programs across the country, including Oregon, Portland, Virginia Tech, Pepperdine, UTEP, Southern Mississippi, Washington State and Nebraska.
Early in the season, he was averaging more than 30 points a game, but the team struggled. That’s when he showed his versatility.
“Deend had several 30-point-plus games, but we were not fluid as a group,” Gragnani said. “When Deend started to get other guys involved with his passing and defense, we began to win. His variety of what he can do is helping our team, and it is more than just scoring points.”
Today’s big AAA games
» Lowell (17-5, 8-1) at Mission (16-3, 9-0), 5:15 p.m.
» Wallenberg (18-2, 8-0) at Lincoln (15-9, 8-1), 5:15 p.m.