Feb. 15, 2017
By John Frierson
UGAAA Staff Writer
Juwan Parker might one day be running the Georgia athletic department. The men’s basketball redshirt junior wants to be an athletic director down the road, and it probably wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows him if he does it.
After missing all of last season with an Achilles injury, and part of the season before, Parker has come back strong this season. He’s started 24 games and is averaging 9.6 points per game, third on the team. In Georgia's 79-72 win over Mississippi State on Tuesday, Parker scored 17, going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
He recently sat down for a quick chat about everything from good cartoons, the rapper Riff Raff, the most interesting player on the team and much, much more. Here’s some of what he had to say:
Frierson: What’s the best live performance you’ve ever seen? It can be a concert, a play or even a game in which somebody blew you away.
Parker: Probably the best live performance was [J.J. Frazier] going for 37 against Mississippi State [during the 2014-15 season]. He scored 37 and was just hitting some crazy shots.
Frierson: Have you had games like that in you basketball career where everything seems to be going in?
Parker: I had a few of those in high school.
Frierson: What's the most creative thing you do? Or what's something creative you wish you could do?
Parker: I’m still trying to learn to play the piano, trying to play a musical instrument. That’s probably the most creative thing I do outside of basketball. I also read a lot.
Frierson: Is there a song you can play already or is there a specific song you want to be able to nail?
Parker: I haven’t played it in so long but I think I can still get it is, “Seven Years” by Lukas Graham. I can play about half of that, and I can play some short nursery-rhyme type stuff.
Frierson: What was the most interesting thing that entered your life in 2016?
Parker: It was probably playing basketball again. [Laughs]
Frierson: I know this season hasn’t gone as well as you guys would have liked, but for you has being back playing again been as satisfying as you thought it would be?
Parker: Oh yeah, definitely. With an injury like that you don’t know if you’re going to come back the same or if you come back at all. It’s a blessing to even be out here playing, and to be able to contribute has been amazing. It’s been great and it has been very satisfying.
Frierson: What's something from your childhood that you really miss?
Parker: Probably the classic cartoons. When I watch cartoons now, they’re just so stupid. Back in my day we had “Spiderman,” you had animated “Wolverine,” “Blue’s Clues.”
Me and my roommate were talking about this the other day. No you’ve got, like, “Clarence.” I’ll sit with my nieces and watch it about be like, this is terrible. It’s not even funny. I miss being able to watch good cartoons.
Frierson: Do you have a guilty pleasure, like a movie that you know is pretty terrible but you love it anyway?
Parker: One of my favorite rappers is Riff Raff and he is a terrible rapper — he is awful. But his music is just so fun and funny, so I really like listening to Riff Raff. As a matter of fact I went to one of his concerts when he was in Athens, and I think that was my first-ever concert.
Frierson: If you could spend an afternoon with Coach Fox doing anything, what would it be?
Parker: First, not talk about basketball. He’s competitive so I’d want to do something like go-carting or golf. We’d have to do something to get our competitive juices going, so I could beat him and talk trash.
Frierson: Are you a golfer?
Frierson: So you’re probably not going to win that.
Parker: I’ve seen him swing and he’s got the weak knees and hips, so it would be a good game.
Frierson: Does anybody on the team give him a lot of grief? Is it you because you’re an elder statesman, or Houston Kessler because he’s been around a long time, too, and doesn’t really have anything to lose?
Parker: I think it’s always the freshmen that give him the most grief, just because they’re freshmen and they don’t know much. [Laughs]
Frierson: I know you’re in grad school now and down the road you’d like to be an athletic director one day, so what’s next for you after you finish up at Georgia?
Parker: Hopefully I’m playing basketball, signing my first contract to play somewhere, either here or overseas, it doesn’t matter. It would be a blessing to play the game for a living and I’d like to keep playing as long as possible.
Frierson: Is there an appeal to playing overseas? You seem like a guy that could really appreciate the chance to live in and experience another country and another culture.
Parker: I think so. I think going to Spain this past summer kind of opened my travel bug, or woke him up, so I’d like to see the world. Of course it’s hard being away from your family and away from where you grew up, but you’re playing the game for money and you get to see different parts of the world.
The world is a big place so it definitely has it’s appeal.
Frierson: Are there a couple of places that you definitely want to see and visit?
Parker: There’s a few places, definitely Greece and Italy, the typical we’ve-got-to-travel-here places. I also want to see Germany. Probably just all over Western Europe, and I even want to go to Russia.
Frierson: Who’s the most interesting guy on the team? However you want to define that.
Parker: Mike Edwards is the most interesting guy. He’s just weird, like he might not get something very simple that you feel like is common sense to the rest of the world, but he knows how to make a video game. He’s taught himself how to make a video game and a couple of months ago he taught himself how to do the Rubik’s Cube in under a minute.
He’ll get on these little projects and actually do them, but sometimes there will be something simple that he doesn’t know how to do. He’s definitely the most interesting guy because he has the most miscellaneous talents.
Frierson: If you could go back and talk to your 18-year-old self that was just arriving at Georgia, what would you tell him?
Parker: No matter what, be you. Don’t try to chance or be the cool kid or anything like that, just be you.
(This Q&A was lightly edited for length and clarity.)
John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He’s also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.