By GARY STALLARD
Rarely, when asked what he’s expected to contribute to his new team, does a player answer in such a way. After all, no kid grabs a ball and practices defense in his driveway.
Former Center High School standout Kaleb Parks isn’t worried about scoring. He was the Offensive Player of the Year in District 16-4A following the 2017-2018 season – a year that saw his Roughrider team advance to the regional semifinals. Post-season accolades included All-State and All-Region selections to go with his Offensive POY honor.
On Tuesday, Parks signed with the Angelina College Roadrunners, giving newly named head coach Nick Wade his first official signee.
Parks said his approach on the defensive end originated with his high school coach Hiram Harrison, who taught his players how much they could score just by taking the ball away from an opponent.
“Coach (Hiram) Harrison kept us focused on defense, on stripping the ball and trying to hold teams under 40 points,” Parks said. “He showed us how to create a lot of easy buckets that way.”
The Roughriders’ approach led to a 32-3 season. In 23 games, Center held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.
Harrison said he saw his young defender begin to blossom early.
“As a sophomore in high school, Kaleb started growing into his body and becoming more athletic,” Harrison said. “He started shooting the ball well and listening to what I was trying to get him to do.
“We hang our hat on defense in our program, creating turnovers and getting out to score. Kaleb loves doing that. He’s good at the press and getting away for some highlight dunks, and he knows he can create scoring opportunities that way. He just loves playing defense. Any time I needed a stop, I put Kaleb on it.”
Wade credited Harrison’s program for making it easier to find home-grown talent capable of competing in one of the toughest junior college conferences in the nation.
“We were fortunate to find Kaleb at a local tryout,” Wade said. “His being from East Texas was to me a no-brainer. I have to credit Coach (Hiram) Harrison for his phenomenal program and the way he cares about his guys, his absolute love for his kids. It’s another sign of the way we do things in East Texas.
“Kaleb’s athleticism is off the charts, and we’re excited about that. His motor is something we’re going to need and feed off here.”
Shands Gymnasium at Angelina College, Parks’ new home, is familiar to the newest Roadrunner.
“I like the school and that it’s close to home,” Parks said. “I’ve played in this gym before, and I feel comfortable here.”
Parks’ mother is Lashonia Parks of Center.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is email@example.com.
- Ezra McMullin is a content and social media producer at MSGPR and attends Angelina College. He unwinds after a long day by playing XBox, telling himself he'll just play one more level before bed.