2008 Newsmakers – Cory Parker: A cut above
Aspen Times Weekly
ASPEN ” A list of his accomplishments from the Skiers’ memorable and historic run to 3A basketball’s Great 8 can still be found on the Aspen High School website.
Skiers head coach Steve Ketchum still talks often and glowingly about him, arguably the best basketball player to ever emerge from this small ski town. Fans still regale one another with stories of his exploits, from the dramatic jumpers to 30-point performances.
The player now wearing his jersey, Walker Abrahamovich, openly admits that donning No. 44 is both a burden and a privilege.
“He did some great things here,” Abrahamovich, a Roaring Fork transfer, said after a recent game. “That’s a lot to live up to.”
Cory Parker might be off to college, but the humble superstar is never forgotten. In truth, it would be hard to ignore the 6-foot-6 forward’s four years at Aspen High, which directly coincided with the program’s rise to statewide hoops relevance.
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The slow, pudgy freshman transformed into 2007’s 3A Western Slope player of the year, unquestioned team leader, and Division I prospect. And what he did for an encore during his senior season was nothing short of historic.
Parker led his team to a perfect record in the Slope as Aspen unseated perennial power Roaring Fork to claim a league championship. The Skiers followed that success with district and regional titles, earning a berth in 3A’s Great 8 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
It was a performance that captivated a community. Fans routinely crowded the gym bleachers, and many made the drive to the Front Range to witness the action firsthand.
The run continued as Parker scored 21 points to lift Aspen to a win over Yuma ” its 21st straight ” and the school’s first berth in the state semifinals.
While the season ended with a humbling defeat to eventual state champion Faith Christian and a heartbreaker to Eaton in the third-place game, not all was lost. The Parker-led Skiers set a school record for wins (23) and took the town on one compelling ride.
Mere minutes after missing a 3-pointer at the buzzer, one that would have lifted Aspen over Eaton in overtime, Parker spoke with The Aspen Times in the tunnel at Moby Arena. While players and coaches struggled to choke back tears, Parker was as composed and thoughtful as ever.
In typical fashion, Parker was as impressive off the court as he was on it.
“It’s tough, but to go from being captain of a team that came from losing in the first round of regionals to going to the Final Four, I consider that a good job,” he said then. “I’ll have time to look back and say that my four years have gotten me to play ball at Drake, which means I did something right.”
Many would attest to that. Before the trip to Fort Collins, Parker accepted a preferred walk-on spot at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. In doing so, he became the first Aspen player to make the jump from high school to the Division I ranks.
Afterward, The Denver Post named him 3A Mr. Basketball.
“Cory was the best player in 3A ” bar none,” Jon Yunt, a sportswriter for the Post, told The Aspen Times in 2008. “It’s the first time in a while a kid from a small town like Aspen has won the award. … He just took them up a notch. … From 1A to 5A, those are the kids who won the awards, the kids whose teams wouldn’t have been anything without them.”
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