The season review series kicks into the final four players remaining. Today we are going to cover one of the senior leaders of the team, one of the leading scorers on the team, one of the leading rebounders on the team, JaQuon Parker. To catch up on the previous installments of the Season Review series, simply click on the players name and read away.
Titus Rubles - David Nyarsuk - Jermaine Sanders - Shaq Thomas - Justin Jackson
Ge'Lawn Guyn - Jeremiah Davis, Alex Eppensteiner, Kelvin Gaines
For the first time in his college career, JaQuon Parker played in every Cincinnati game, starting 33 of the 34 contests. Parker played a career high 30 minutes a game. He used a career high 21.1% of the Bearcat possessions. He had a career high 21.3% shot percentage. Parker made a career high 127 of 310 field goals, hitting 41%. He was a career best 40-100 from 3. That's 40% if you can't do simple math. Parker set another career standard with a career worst 54.2% outing from the free throw line, going 78-144. JaQuon posted the second highest free throw rate of his career in that effort. As a result of his improved 3 point shooting, Parker had a best 47.4% effective field goal percentage. As a result of the free throws, he had a downgrade from last year in true shooting percentage at 49%. He had a 102.7 offensive rating. Parker scored 372 points, 10.9 a game.
JaQuon was a little worse on the glass compared to last season. He averaged 4.8 rebounds a game. He pulled in 2.1 offensive boards a game, 7.6% of the available offensive rebounds. That was right on his career trajectory. Parker only pulled in 9.9% of the defensive rebounds, 7% fewer than last year, by far the lowest rate of his career. Park made up for that by passing the ball better. He had 55 assists, 1.6 a game. That was an improvement. He had 54 turnovers though. He turned the ball over on 15.4% of UC possessions, not terrible, but he wasn't as sure handed as he was as a junior. Parker managed a career high in steals with 25. He blocked 1 shot.
JaQuon Parker started his final season as a Bearcat with a solid 8 point, 6 rebound, 2 assist, 1 steal, 1 block game in the opener. He followed up with 13, 4 boards, all offensive, 2 assists and 3 steals. He played just 13 minutes against NCAA Tournament team NC A&T, but had a season high 5 assists. Park followed that with one of his better games of the season. He scored 21 points on 7-10, 5-11 from the foul line, 8 rebounds and 2 assists against Campbell. That solid game was followed by a dud against Iowa State. Parker scored 2 points on 1-7 with 3 turnovers. He responded with 16 on 6-16 in the Vegas Invitational thing win over Oregon.
The 16 point performance against Oregon kicked off one of four runs of four game double digit scoring stretches. Park had 13 and 6 against Alabama, 11 and 3 steals against UALR and 12-6-4 against UMES. Parker was 7-16 from 3 in that stretch. After an 8 point outing against Marshall stopped that streak, he started the second. JaQuon was 2-10 from the field against Xavier, but he hit 7-10 at the foul line to beat the Muskies in his final Shootout. He had 5 offensive boards against X. JaQuon matched his season high of 21 against Wright State the following game. He went 8-15 from the field and had 5 rebounds. He was the spark in that contest. Park had a rough go against New Mexico with 14 points on 5-14 shooting and 4 turnovers. He closed the streak with 13 points and 5 boards in a win over Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati lost their next two games. Parker didn't play well in either. He was 1-8 for 3 points, but 4 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals, against St John's and 2-2 for 8 points, 3 turnovers, against Notre Dame. Park got back in the groove in a pair of UC wins with 11-8 against Rutgers and 12 points, but 6 turnovers, against DePaul. Parker was one of the guys who helped give us a panic attack as DePaul made a late rally. JaQuon didn't shoot well against Marquette, 3-10, 7 points, but he had 8 rebounds, 5 offensive, and matched his season high with 5 assists. He had 11-6-4 against Syracuse in a losing effort.
JaQuon went into a 2 game shooting slump as Cincinnati pulled out a pair of ugly wins over Rutgers and Seton Hall. He was 1-6 for 7 points, 4-6 at the foul line, against Rutgers. That was followed by 1-5 for 9 points, 6-8 FTs. He had just 5 rebounds in the 2 games. JaQuon snapped out of his funk everywhere but the foul line against Providence. He had his first double double of the season with 12 points on 4-7 shooting and 10 rebounds. He was a miserable 3-9 at the foul line, which really hurt because Cincinnati lost by 4. Park was kind of a non-factor against Pitt with 7 points and 3 rebounds.
He would not be a non-factor in the next 4 games as JaQuon kicked off his 3rd stretch of four double digit scoring games. He put up 19 on 6-10, 3-3 from 3, 4-11 FTs, with 6 boards against Nova. He had 15 and 6 against Georgetown and gave UC their final lead of that game. He also didn't commit a turnover. Park carried UC against UConn with 14 points on 7-12 in the overtime loss. He was the only guy to score, but that's all he did, 1 rebound, with 12 points on 5-12 shooting against Notre Dame. The hot streak ended with an absolutely miserable game against UConn. Parker was 2-9 from the field and 1-9 from the free throw line. He had a bad turnover late in the game when UConn was making a run. He also missed a layup that set up the Huskies with a chance to win.
The final four game stretch of double digit scoring performances started with a miserable game against Louisville. Park got 12, but on 5-16 shooting. He, and every other Bearcat it seemed, turned the ball over 4 times. He played all 40 minutes of that game, the only time he would do so during the season. JaQuon had a fine 14 point, 8 rebound, 6 offensive, 3 assist performance as he went out a victor on senior day. Park hung his second double double of the season in the Big East tournament. He put 15 and 10 on PC on the back of 5-9 shooting. He had 12 points on 3-6, 4-4 FTs, against Georgetown. In the NCAA tournament, Parker got hit in the eye early in the game against Creighton. In 25 minutes, JaQuon didn't score. He had 1 rebound, 2 assists and 1 steal. He didn't play a lot of minutes at crunch time. Parker started the year with 3 field goal attempts and ended the year with 3 field goal attempts.
There were a number of things about JaQuon Parker's season that stand out. The first and biggest negative was his miserable performance in the Creighton game. The CBS analysts said during one of the games that losing your last NCAA tournament game as a senior is a bad feeling that never goes away. Every time you look back on your career, you remember that game. Unfortunately for Park, he played the worst game of the season in that one. It hurts to see a guy you loved watching go out in one of the worst ways possible.
Another thing that jumps out about JaQuon this season were his turnovers. Over 12 games from December 27 - February 12, he turned the ball over 32 times. 59% of his turnovers happened in that small portion of the season. Not good. The final 4 games of the season he turned the ball over twice. When the flood hit, it hit hard.
The third thing that jumps out is his free throw shooting. Parker was never Mark Price at the foul line, but he was never this bad. Even during the season he went 9-49, he was a 58% foul shooter. He was at 68% a year ago. He lost 14%. I think it was clear that the major problem was in his head. Mick said late in the year that he never had a team worry as much as this one did. I think Parker worried about going to the free throw line. Once he missed one, the doubt seeped in. He hit 9-12 over 2 games and 2-12 over 2 games at separate times this year.
The final thing that stands out about JaQuon Parker is how much of a joy it was watching him play. Everyone plays hard. JaQuon Parker played harder. He wasn't the most talented guy to put on a Bearcat uniform, but there were few players who would bust their ass like he did. Park would fit in on any Cincinnati team throughout history. He was tough not just on the court, but his mental makeup off of it was excellent. I honestly don't know how many players could go through the hell that Parker went through his sophomore season and end up being a huge key to a Sweet 16 team and a leader his senior season. That type of maturation is part of the reason I love college basketball. You don't get to see someone like JaQuon Parker grow as a person and a player like we did in other sports. He was out to sea and fought back. He earned his minutes. He earned everything he accomplished. When we look back in a few years on JaQuon Parker, we are going to remember him ripping the rebound from Kyle Kuric in the Big East tournament in 2010, the magnificent game against Marquette on senior day last year and the fact that he busted his ass every game. JaQuon Parker is the type of player that makes me proud to be a Cincinnati fan.