CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Lorenzo Parker briefly thought about hanging up his basketball jersey.
It is hard to believe for a young man who loves the game so much, but the momentary thought came about two weeks after the New Minas, N.S., native had surgery to repair a torn ACL.
“Do I really want to do this?” Parker said he thought as he stared down a long road to return to the court.
The answer was a resounding yes, and tonight, after 10 months of hard work rehabbing from the injury, he makes his return to the UPEI Panthers lineup for the start of the second half of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) season.
“It’s a good life lesson,” Parker said. “No matter what happens, as long as you work hard you can push through and get things done.”
Parker is in his final season of university eligibility with a veteran roster that hopes to make the playoffs after a disappointing first semester.
Parker and Jake Kendrick, who was also injured for the first semester, have been the team’s biggest cheerleaders all season.
It was a challenge for Parker, who has missed only a handful of games during his university career.
“You can say whatever to the guys, and they may nod their head and say yeah, but you have no control on the game whatsoever,” he said.
Parker tore his ACL in the AUS final on March 5 in Halifax against the Dalhousie Tigers. Those same Tigers are in town for tonight’s 8 p.m. game with the Panthers.
“I’m going to be at my best,” Parker said.
The 22-year-old guard was a star for the Horton Griffins in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. He has put his own statistical numbers aside to be part of a successful Panther program.
“The will to want to win pushes you,” Parker said. “When you’re playing with players like Tyler Scott, who everyone knows is the best player, it's easy to accept your role.”
While it is easy to say, it is not always the case at the university level.
“There’s not a selfish bone in his body. . . Lorenzo is about one thing. He’s about his team doing as well as they can,” head coach Tim Kendrick said. “He does not care if he gets 25 or five (points). All he cares about is the end, did we get the W?”
Scott is a couple of years older than Parker, but he knew him during their time playing with separate provincial teams in Nova Scotia.
“Lorenzo is what you call the perfect teammate,” Scott said. “He does it all for us. Coach can probably vouch for this, but anything you ask Lorenzo to do, he’ll do. If you tell Lo to run through that wall right there, he’s going to do it. Whatever it takes to win. He’s a pivotal piece to this team.”
Parker played in basketball programs Kendrick was involved with before he started elementary school. It made for an easy decision when Parker was looking to continue his career at university.
Kendrick said Parker brings many intangibles to the team, including a big part of the team’s heart.
His teammates agree.
“He tore three huge ligaments in his knee and he’s back less than a year later. It just shows what kind of person Lorenzo is and how much heart he has,” Scott said.
Need to know
Who – A fifth-year UPEI Panthers guard from New Minas, N.S. He is 22 years old.
Height, weight – Six-foot-two, 208 pounds
Studying – Business major and sociology minor.
Coach Tim Kendrick said – “He’s a great student. He’s a great ambassador for UPEI. He’s a great basketball player and he’s great in the community. He’s delivered 10-fold on everything we thought he could do.”