By Tom Ballato
Mike Parks Jr. grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but was always on the move. He lived in eight to nine different places during high school, struggled with homelessness, but still kept a positive attitude.
“God and my mom. Constantly praying, I know he brought me through this storm for a reason, I’m not sure what it is yet. Also, my mom just kept pushing me. At one point in time, I was going to stop playing basketball, and I had to figure out life, but she told me not to worry about it. She’s the love of my life,” Parks Jr. said about keeping a positive attitude through all the adversity growing up.
Parks Jr. began his collegiate career at Missouri State-West Plains, a junior college in West Plains, Missouri. He averaged 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. As a sophomore, Parks Jr. transferred to Southwest Mississippi Community College. He averaged 8.9 points and 4 rebounds per game and committed to New Mexico, but after a coaching change, he reopened his recruitment.
Parks Jr. committed to play at Memphis for coach Tubby Smith. He knew Smith because he recruited one of his teammates during his freshman year.
Earning a Division I scholarship meant the world to him. “I always dreamt about it, and I spoke it into existence. If you pray about it, it shall happen,” Parks Jr. claimed.
Parks Jr. was put into the starting lineup right away at Memphis. He experienced two different coaching styles with Smith and his replacement Penny Hardaway, who took over his senior year. “My time at Memphis was great. I had a lot of fun, and I miss it,” Parks Jr. said.
In his two seasons at Memphis, he averaged 7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on 57% shooting.
He began his professional career in the Toronto Raptors’ organization. The Raptors 905 selected Mike Parks Jr. in Round 3 of the 2019 Annual NBA Development League Draft. He was waived, brought back with the team, and appeared in two games with the Raptors 905.
Shortly after the Raptors 905 waived him, Parks Jr. signed with the Perry Lakes Hawks, a team in Australia, but never appeared in a game due to the coronavirus.
Mike Parks Jr. recently signed with the Worcester Wolves of the British Basketball League (BBL). The 6-foot-9 forward is aggressive, has a soft touch around the rim, and can play inside. Parks Jr. has also worked on his outside shooting, something he didn’t display in college.
Despite playing in just two games last season, Parks Jr. was grateful for his opportunities. The Worcester Wolves have a leader in Parks Jr., and at 23 years old, he’s just getting started.