By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
Emilio Parks had to take a long and winding road to find a new basketball home in Charlotte, N.C.
Parks graduated from Lakeside in June of 2010 with plans to play basketball at Lake Erie College. He led the Dragons to 18 wins his senior year including a district semifinal appearance.
The 6-foot-5 Parks scored more than 1,000 career points and was named both Lakeside and Premier Athletic Conference Player of the Year, averaging 23.7 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game during his senior season.
A severe knee injury changed those plans as Parks underwent microfracture surgery to fix cartilage issue. He said it took seven weeks to rehabilitate the knee.
The timing of the surgery ended any hopes of Parks playing for Lake Erie College. He attended classes at the school and decided to transfer to University of South Carolina Salkehatchie, a Division I junior college, for the 2011-12 season.
“I averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds (a game) and got recruited by Johnson C. Smith University,” Parks said.
He said the team lost in the regional finals last year.
Parks said the junior college programs are filled with potential NCAA Division II and NCAA Division I prospects.
Parks said he learned a lot during the last two years and is excited about playing in Charlotte for the next three years.
The university is right in the middle of Charlotte, Parks said.
“You can’t be bored there,” he said. “I’ve learned so much from not playing and (from) the year at junior college.
“You have to really adjust your game from high school. If you don’t adjust your game you won’t play at the college level.”
The university was founded in 1867 and includes 1,500 students and competes in NCAA Division II and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The men’s team won the CIAC championship in 2009.
Parks said the team won 12 games last year but has improved to 6-3 this year.
“I’m playing about 30 minutes a game,” he said.
Each game is different for Parks who plays the center position.
“I’m a small center,” he said. “I shoot outside over big men and post up smaller guys.”
The summer of 2012 was important in Park’s development as a player.
“I had a speed coach over the summer and a personal trainer,” he said. “I went to summer school and I was in the gym.”
Parks said it is important for area athletes to understand the maturity and work ethic it takes to succeed at the Division II level.
“You have to mature yourself on the court and off,” Parks said.
He said it is important for athletes to respect the coach and teammates and the game.
“If you are going to play a sport be committed at all times. Don’t take a day off unless you have to,” he said.
Parks is studying sports management.