This past season, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior found himself as the focus of the Lions opponents’ defensive schemes.
“I can remember we were playing at Weaver and I heard their coach say to not let me touch the ball,” Parks said.
Parks dealt with constant double teams and special strategies aimed at limiting his output all season. He managed to average 14 points a game and led Faith to a 20-win season and a berth in the sub-regional round of the AHSAA Class 1A state playoffs.
Local coaches have recognized his accomplishment by naming him The Star’s 2012 Class 1A-2A Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
With streams of defenders being sent his way on nearly every possession, Parks, who’d been a spot-up shooter earlier in his career, became a facilitator on offense. He created opportunities for his teammates to get buckets. Along with double-digit numbers in scoring, he also averaged four assists per game.
“Usually, Zach would bring the ball down the court,” Parks said. “That took so much pressure off me. I could shoot 3s, and it was easy for me to get open. This year, me, Drake Chappell and Stephen Emerson, all three of us, shared that role and broke the press.”
Parks is joined by teammate Stuart Emerson on the first-team. Stuart, a 6-0 senior forward, averaged 10 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 57 percent from the field.
Sacred Heart seventh-graders Kevion Nolan and DJ Heath, the Class 1A Area tournament MVP, Donoho’s Matthew Overton and Ohatchee’s Caleb Vice comprise the rest of the first-team.
Sacred Coach Ralpheal Graves was named Coach of the Year after leading the Cardinals to an 18-6 record and an area tournament title in his first season as head coach.
Faith Christian coach Kevin Wilson said he saw Parks’ potential to be a go-to player early in his career. He recounted a 3-pointer Parks hit from the top of the key on the road against Pleasant Valley as a sophomore to give his team a one-point lead with less than a minute to go.
“It was the ugliest shot I’ve ever seen,” Wilson joked. “But it was one of my favorite memories of Cole. Here he was, a sophomore, starting on the varsity for the first time, and he was willing to take a 3-point shot like that and he banked it in.”
Parks, who somehow manages, to play two spring sports, baseball and soccer, plans to enroll at Auburn University in the fall where he said he’ll look to give his classmates the blues in intramural play.
“Losing in the area tournament was a heartbreaker,” Parks said of his final season on the hardwood. “But I’m really proud of our team. We said before the season started that we wanted to get 20 wins and we did that.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. Reach him at 256-235-3575. On Twitter: birds_word.