While he ended up going pro out of high school, former San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker was heavily recruited and almost attended college in the U.S.
Growing up in France, Tony Parker became obsessed with the game of basketball at an early age. His talent not only led to recognition from French leagues and later the San Antonio Spurs, but also some universities in the United States.
Following in the footsteps of his father, who played at Loyola University Chicago, Parker was dribbling a basketball as early as age three, falling in love with the game through his childhood and adolescent years. That love of the game led him to attend INSEP in Paris, France — a teacher training institute specializing in sports excellence.
While he ended up starting his professional career for Paris Basket Racing in France in 1999, Tony Parker explained how his career could’ve been very different if he decided to accept offers he was being given.
In his new book, Beyond All of my Dreams, written with David Loriot, Parker talked about the first time scouts approached him before he even turned 15. *Note: this post may contain minor spoilers for anyone wanting to read the book in its entirety.
While playing in the under-16 European championships, a Clemson representative sent Tony a letter. “It read, ‘No matter what happens, in four years we’re taking you on,” said Parker in the book. “I’ll remember that forever. They followed me for four years.”
Parker expanded on how impressed Clemson was with his game. As he detailed, their assistant coach, Dennis Felton, met with him and his father, declaring, “your son is incredible, and we want to take him on.”
While certainly flattered, Tony doesn’t mention seriously considering attending Clemson in his biography. However, that wasn’t the case with the two other schools that had their eyes on Parker.
“Georgia Tech and UCLA also wanted to recruit me, and I really thought about going,” said Parker. Tony’s NBA career would’ve been drastically different if he ended up moving to the USA and played on the national stage. Instead, teams passed him up 27 times in the 2001 NBA Draft.
Fortunately for the San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker ended up on a trajectory that landed him in the Alamo City, where he became one of the greatest players in franchise history.