Parker Fox was probably the best college basketball player from Minnesota you hadn't heard of, but now he's on almost everyone's radar.
The 6-8 junior at Northern State (S.D.) was named to the NABC Division II All-America team Wednesday. His future, though, will be at a higher level of college hoops.
He's ready to take his talents to Division I — and he's got a ton of options.
The Mahtomedi native has nearly 30 Division I schools he's considering since he announced he was transferring last week. His home-state Gophers are on a list that includes teams from all six major conferences.
"I grew up a big Gophers fan," Fox said. "I was a court kid basically every year. We would go to all the basketball, hockey and football games."
Newly named Gophers basketball coach Ben Johnson talked to Fox over the phone Tuesday. It's still early in the process, but Fox is looking forward to a video meeting with Johnson and eventually his assistants in the near future.
"I had a good conversation with Ben Johnson last night," Fox said. "We were able to express that he was interested in me, obviously, and wanted to continue this recruitment process.
"He's got to figure out his roster situation with the guys he's bringing back and bringing in. So, hopefully once they're able to get through that, we'll have a Zoom set up. … That's an exciting deal."
The average college hoops fan in Minnesota probably didn't know Fox's name too well before he became a sought-after transfer for the Gophers.
But they might have seen one of his gravity-defying highlight videos on YouTube. He's basically been the small-college version of Zion Williamson when it comes to how often he dunks — and how much fun he has doing it. He loves to get the crowd and his teammates hyped.
"I play with a lot of passion and a lot of heart," Fox said. "I play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I just love to play the game of basketball. I kind of show that on the court.
"I'm a versatile player and can play inside and out. I love to make the highlight dunks and big blocks, but I think the best part of my game is playing in space. Going around defenders and finishing at the rim. Defensively, I can switch out to defend guards or being help-side and blocking shots."
Fox had no Division I scholarship offers after his senior year at Mahtomedi in 2017. He was a standout high jumper in track and field, but he decided to play basketball at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D. It was the only Division II program to offer.
"I came out of high school, a little shorter and not as strong," he said. "I only had one offer available, so I jumped on it. It was one of the best moves I ever made. I'm incredibly grateful."
After a productive redshirt freshman year off the bench in 2018-19, Fox led the Wolves in scoring as a sophomore (19.9) and junior (22.3) the past two seasons. He also averaged 9.9 rebounds, shot 36% from three and tallied 74 blocks this season. His best games were with 39 points and eight blocks vs. Moorhead, and 21 points and 21 rebounds vs. St. Cloud State.
Making the transition from Division II or Division III to Division I is becoming more common for top players at the lower levels. Most recently, D-III Carleton College's Freddie Gillespie ended up becoming a starting center at Baylor and is now pursuing his NBA dreams.
Gophers fans and their new head coach probably hope Fox decides to keep his talent in his home state.
"This is the biggest decision I ever made," Fox said. "And I need to make a decision that helps me in my future. I want to be a professional basketball player. At the end of the day that's the biggest goal. So I have to pick a spot I'm able to see myself in, the role, the type of offense and somewhere I can play minutes and help the team win."
Other transfers with Minnesota roots on the Gophers' radar are George Washington forward Jamison Battle, Indiana forward Race Thompson and Ball State guard Ish El-Amin.
Battle, a former DeLaSalle star who averaged 17 points this season, is expected to talk to Johnson on a video call Thursday. El-Amin, who starred for Hopkins, was contacted by the Gophers on Wednesday.
The Gophers contacted Thompson after he went into the transfer portal Wednesday. He has a connection with the Gophers with his father, Darrell, in the football record books as the school's all-time leading rusher. But the 6-8 former Armstrong star was also recruited by Minnesota's new head coach when Johnson was on Pitino's staff in 2017.