After playing for Allan Hancock College's conference champion football team last fall and helping the men's basketball reach the state tournament in the winter, Shemarr Parker will head to the Midwest next month to continue his academic career as a two-sport student-athlete. The Santa Maria High School and Hancock graduate verbally committed to play men's basketball and football next year for Tabor College.
"Tabor is the perfect fit for me. I feel extremely comfortable with the football and basketball coaching staffs and with their commitment to winning in the classroom and on the field," said Parker, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs about 250 pounds. "It was really important to me to keep growing and improving in both sports and help both programs continue to succeed. The adrenaline I feel playing football and basketball is indescribable. The opportunity to play both sports at the next level is a dream come true."
Tabor College, located in Hillsboro, Kansas, competes in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC). The men's basketball team went 14-15 overall last season and 13-9 in KCAC action during the 2017-18 season. The Bluejays are led by Head Coach Micah Ratzlaff, who received the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association's Coach of the Year award in 2016. From 2014-16, Ratzlaff led the Bluejays to three straight appearances in the NAIA National Tournament and two conference titles.
"The coaches want me to come in and contribute offensively and play tough, physical defense," said Parker, who played valuable minutes during the Bulldogs' 2018 postseason run in the Southern California Regionals.
Parker averaged seven points and four rebounds in three postseason games to help Hancock advance to the State Tournament's Elite Eight for the first time in 44 years. Parker averaged 2.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per game and shot 35.3 percent from 3-point range overall his sophomore year. In two seasons with the Hancock basketball team, Parker averaged nearly four points and three rebounds per game. He also shot 39.4 percent from 3-point range in his career.
"It's hard to put into words how much Shemarr has meant to me and the program. He is a leader. He love him. We are proud of him and we can't wait to follow his success at Tabor," said Hancock men's basketball Head Coach Tyson Aye. "Shemarr exemplifies everything our program stands for – positive attitude, effort, communication, resiliency and commitment."
The Tabor football team is coming off an 8-2 season that included an 8-1 mark in conference play. In ten seasons as head coach of the Bluejays, Mike Gardner has an overall record of 79-32 with four conference titles and five appearances in the NAIA Playoffs.
"I will play tight end for Tabor. They see me as a blocker and someone who can catch short passes," said Parker, who played on the offensive line for Hancock Head Coach Kris Dutra's football team last fall.
Parker, who received the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award from the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA), chose to play two sports at Tabor over offers to play basketball at Southwestern College in Kansas and California State University, Dominguez Hills. He said conversations with Curry Parham, a St. Joseph High School graduate who played quarterback at Hancock and Tabor, contributed to his decision to play for the Bluejays. Parham played quarterback for Tabor from 2016-17. He threw for 1,863 yards and 18 touchdowns, as well as rushed for 340 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior in 2017.
"Curry talked about his positive experience as a student-athlete at Tabor. To speak with a Santa Maria native and former Bulldog who I know and respect really assured me I was making the right decision," recalled Parker.
Parker is the 24th former Hancock men's basketball player to sign with a four-year institution during Coach Aye's five seasons with the Bulldogs. He also became the 17th member of Hancock's 2017 football team to commit to a four-year institution.
"I am so grateful for my time at Hancock. Coach Aye and Coach Dutra helped me become a man and taught me how to succeed on and off the field. I am a better student-athlete and human because of the coaches and staff at Hancock," said Parker.
"What Shemarr accomplished this year was unprecedented. He was part of a conference championship football team and part of an Elite Eight Championship basketball team. He's earned him a chance to do the same thing at the next level and we couldn't be prouder of him," added Aye.
After earning an associate degree in liberal arts from Hancock two months ago, Parker plans to major in business at Tabor. He will move to Kansas in early August.