Article by Chris Monter
Parker Fox became the fifth new addition of new head coach Ben Johnson when he announced that he will transfer to Minnesota after playing at Division II Northern State.
Fox averaged 22.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 blocked shots, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game this past season. He was named to the NABC All-America and Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-America team this afternoon. Fox finished with ten double-doubles this season, in addition to career highs in scoring (39), rebounding (21), and assists (7). He shot 64.4% from the field, 25% from three-point range and 50.3% from the line. Fox earned four NSIC North Division Player of the Week awards and one National Player of the Week honor. He was named to the NSIC/Sanford Health and NCAA Central Region All-Tournament teams. In addition, Fox was the NSIC North Division Defensive Player of the Year, Player of the Year, and first team all-conference honoree.
GopherHole caught up with Fox Thursday evening to learn more about his commitment and expectations for the upcoming season.
GopherHole: You committed to Minnesota today. What was the main factors in picking the Gophers?
Parker Fox: Just excited to come home and to be home and to be part of a program that I’ve wanted to be a part of since I was really young. Just continuing to build my relationship with Coach Johnson and to realize that I trust in his plan, not only for me, but for the program as a whole. I’m excited to be part of this journey and putting Gopher basketball where it needs to be.
GopherHole: You had a Zoom meeting with Ben a few weeks ago. Did you have more than one?
Parker Fox: I just had one with Ben and I did another one with the assistants. I basically talked with Ben and the assistants every single day.
GopherHole: Who did you talk to assistant-wise?
Parker Fox: Coach Kemp and Coach Thorson. I built a really strong relationship with both those guys. Basically, I FaceTimed both of time every single day, just learning more about them and where they come from and what’s the plan in terms of coming together as a group and making Gopher basketball great.
GopherHole: Obviously, Ben played at DeLaSalle and with Gophers as well. What was your relationship with him before he became the Minnesota head coach? Did you know much about him or did you know him at all?
Parker Fox: Yes, so I obviously knew who he was. He was an assistant and from DeLaSalle and a Minnesota guy, who grew as a big Gopher fan, so I knew Ben and just some of the guys that I knew just from AAU and all that kind of stuff knew Ben and once I entered the portal, he was still at Xavier, so he hit me up at Xavier and then didn’t hear from him for a couple of days and then he got the job and he called me that night. Once I was able to form and build that relationship, I knew that he was my coach.
GopherHole: I think I read that you might have heard from as many as 100 schools. Did you keep track or was it hard to do that?
Parker Fox: I kept a little list of the Division I’s. It was wild because I heard from 50, 55 Division I’s and some random schools like Division II’s and stuff as well. I would say around 60 Division I’s, so I kept a list.
GopherHole: No offense, but what were the D2’s thinking?
Parker Fox: I mean, it was weird because my situation was different coming from a D2. I just had a quick conversation and said “I appreciate your time, but I am headed a different direction,” but it was definitely funny.
GopherHole: What other schools did you have Zoom meetings with?
Parker Fox: I had Zoom meetings with 15 different schools, every school in my top eight or nine. Minnesota, Creighton, Florida State, TCU, San Diego State, Dayton, Ohio State and Vanderbilt. I also Zoomed with Iona, Xavier and Texas A&M. I had was with Butler.
GopherHole: You Zoomed with Xavier after Ben left then?
Parker Fox: Yes. I Zoomed with Xavier like the day after Ben left. It was funny because Ben was texted me as I was about hop on a Zoom with Xavier and he said “tell those guys to leave you alone.” It was funny, but I got a chance to build a relationship with Coach Steele over there. It was good.
GopherHole: Was it weird, the whole recruiting process, because, you obviously can’t visit schools. I am sure that there were some schools that you would have loved to have visited to get some more information. Was it weird in general to go through the recruiting process and not see the schools in person?
Parker Fox: Yes, a crazy process. It was exciting and overwhelming and stressful and every kind of emotion that you could have I definitely felt through the process. It was a dead period, so I couldn’t visit anywhere, obviously, so that was tough. At the end of the day, it just came down to my trust that I had in Ben and the relationship that we had. I knew today when I called him, I said “I trust you and I trust what we are going to do. Let’s do this thing.”
GopherHole: That has to make you feel pretty good knowing that were a lot of big schools and schools that were in the NCAA Tournament, that were interested in you?
Parker Fox: Yes, for sure. It was fun. I entered the portal when March Madness was going on and the fact that schools took time out of their day while they were playing in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8. A team like Arkansas had made a good run, was on me, while they were in the tournament or a team like Creighton that was in the Sweet 16. The fact that they took time out of their day while they are preparing for late games and March Madness makes me pretty good and makes me know I’m in the right spot.
GopherHole: You are the fifth person who has committed to Minnesota. Have you talked to Coach Johnson and the other assistants about the Minnesota roster for next season?
Parker Fox: Yes. It’s special. I think that is the focal point that Ben wants to continue to develop. Keep these guys home and keep them where they belong and where they should be. I think that Minnesota has as much talent as any other state in the country does at the high school level, so keeping these guys home is what we want to do and what I want to be a part of and anyway I can be a part of that journey for not only my future, but I care about the future of this program. The more guys that they keep home and keep around here, it is going to be special, not only for me, but this program as well.
GopherHole: Sean Sutherlin is another kid who committed to Minnesota after transferring from New Hampshire. You guys played AAU together, right?
Parker Fox: Yes. He was my U17 Minnesota Heat Vang teammate and we developed a really good relationship. I’m about to room with him and all that stuff, so I am really excited to get down to Minneapolis and get with Sean and make this thing happen.
GopherHole: Had you talked to him much during the whole thing?
Parker Fox: Yes, we talked every day. We talked every day. When he committed, he was on me super hard. Texting me “when we doing this, when we doing this.” I Facetimed him this morning in a Gopher T-shirt and he light up, so I’m pretty excited.
GopherHole: Obviously, you’ve worked very hard on your game. You redshirted as a freshman. Had pretty good freshman year, improved a lot as a sophomore and had a monster year this year. What things are you going to try to continue to work on to improve yourself as a player?
Parker Fox: I think that I am just scratching the surface on my game and what I can do as a player. I want to be a pro. I love the game of basketball and I want to do this for as long as I can do this. I know that I have a lot to improve on . I want to continue to develop my jump shot and my ballhandling skills. Just consistency and repetition on those and overall, the physicality of the game. Just being able to play a little faster, little bigger and a little stronger. I’m just excited to prove that not only do it at the next level, but exceed at this level.
GopherHole: When did you first start thinking about putting your name into the transfer portal?
Parker Fox: I would say at the beginning of this year. I had a pretty good sophomore year. I was first team All-Conference, All Region type of guy, so I thought that it could be a possibility and then once the season came around, we had a really good team and had a lot of individual and team success. It was always on my mind, but I tried to stay focused on my team and what we were doing as a group. Where I come from, it’s always team first and treating others with respect and I would never do anything to put my team in jeopardy of not having success, so I was locked in during the year. Once the year ended, I just had the conversation with my family and my coach and just knowing that it was the right decision to move on and go Division I
GopherHole: I had texted you before your game with Northwest Missouri State to wish you good luck and watch the game online. Do you think about the game a lot?
Parker Fox: Oh, yes. Every day. Every day. It will haunt me for a little bit, but at the end of the day, it just continues. It is another motivator. I’ve been down and out I’ve been passed over my whole life, so it’s just another thing that going to motivate me to be the best version of myself.
GopherHole: How tough was that? You were up 76-65 with 3:01 left to play. They made a last second shot and set the game to overtime. Unfortunately, you and a couple of other teammates fouled out in overtime. How tough was it to be on the sideline at the end of the game?
Parker Fox: It was extremely tough. Anytime you go into a game with guys who are your roster who are sixth and seventh man with broken foots and 52 fouls called in a game. It’s never easy. It was hard to sit there and watch some of these freshmen come in at the end of the game and try to win it for us. Not having success in the game. It was tough to go sit there and watch, but that’s how the game goes. That’s why there’s rules. Rules are what makes the game so fun. Without rules, it’s a whole different game. Yeah, it stunk. It stunk to lose that one, but at the end of the day, you have to treat it the right way. You’ve got to use it as motivation to get better.
GopherHole: Did you even watch the rest of the Division II Tournament then or no?
Parker Fox: Yeah. I think a lot of the guys on my team didn’t, but I look at it as motivation, so I watched it and I watched them go onto win every game by 25 (they won the quarterfinal game by 21, the semifinals by 31 and the title game by 26). They are a phenomenal team and hats off to Northwest Missouri State for their success. Like you said, that was a championship game, but credit to them. They have an unbelievable program and an unbelievable coach and they have a lot of success.
GopherHole: Did that make it a little bit easier or not really, the fact that they won, and like you said, they won pretty easily in the semifinals and finals? I would assume that if you guys had won, that it easily could have been you in the title game.
Parker Fox: Yes, that’s why I think that it makes it a little harder to know that if we had won that one, you got a very high chance of winning it all, but you have to play the game. Not matter what, you still have to play the game. You have to go out and play your opponent and whatever happens, happens. It is definitely tough. You can look at it two ways. I’m looking at as “Let’s get better.”
GopherHole: What has the reaction been since you committed to the Gophers?
Parker Fox: I’m just excited. I’m excited to get home. I’m excited to be by my family, too. Just help this program win. I’ve been a fan of this program since, I’ve been a fan of this university since. I used to go to all the hockey games, all the football games. I used to be just be a part of the Gopher athletics and I’m just excited to get back and be a Gopher and help this program. The support of the community has been awesome and people reaching out and showing love. I’m really happy that I am going to be home, so I am super excited.
GopherHole: Have you heard from any current players or even friends and family today?
Parker Fox: I’ve been in contact with all the current players. I know some of the football guys and that sort of deal. I’m excited to get to see these guys and get back home to Minneapolis.
GopherHole: You mentioned about having a great year this season. Does that make you think more about playing professional basketball after your college career is over?
Parker Fox: Oh, no doubt. No doubt. When success comes your way, it makes it easier to think, “What’s next and that kind of thing,” but for me it’s all about just getting better every single day. I know I’m not nearly where I want to be and I have a lot of room to grow as a player. I think I know that I am going to put the work in and that I can get to the level that maybe I don’t even know is possible. It excites me and I’m just super grateful that I get to do it at this level and at the University, I’ve always wanted to do it at.
GopherHole: What is it going to mean to play in front of your friends and family at Williams Arena?
Parker Fox: Everything. I’ve been away for four years and I’m a homebody. I love my family and my friends and camaraderie. Being able to do it in front of them at a high level and hopefully, we can start selling The Barn out and COVID ends and we can getting people in there, it’s going to a blast.