Arashma Parks used to live in the trenches as a defensive end.
But that all changed three years ago. As an incoming freshman at North Royalton High School in Ohio, Parks decided to hang up his football pads and lace up his basketball shoes instead.
Parks, now a senior at The Phelps School in Malvern, Pennsylvania, didn’t play organized basketball until his freshman season. The Rivals.com three-star recruit signed his National Letter of Intent to play at Temple in November.
“One day I sat down with my family and I told them, ‘I don’t think I want to play football ever again. I want to start playing basketball,’” Parks said. “Then we talked about it and made sure it was the right thing to do. And then I told the football coach I was done with football and started playing basketball.”
Despite getting a late start in basketball, it didn’t take long for Parks to land Division I offers. Fordham University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga showed interest in the summer before his sophomore season. Parks also had offers from UMass, St. Louis University, the University of Pittsburgh and Hofstra University.
The 6-foot-8-inch forward comes from a family of college athletes.
Parks is the younger brother of Villanova redshirt-freshman forward Omari Spellman. Spellman scored a career-high 27 points during Villanova’s 87-67 victory against Temple on Dec. 13.
Taiyer Parks — Arashma Parks’s sister and a junior center on the girl’s basketball team at North Royalton — has Division I offers from Power Five schools like Ohio State University, the University of Florida and Michigan State University.
Arashma Parks’ parents — Teresita Jones Thomas and Omari Parks — both played sports at Youngstown State University in Ohio. His mother played basketball and his father played football.
Arashma Parks said he can reach out to his family of current and former student-athletes if he has trouble adjusting to college life as a freshman next season.
“[Spellman] said before that he’ll help me with anything,” Arashma Parks said. “He told me before, ‘The first couple of weeks are the hardest, just getting adjusted to everything.’ But once I get everything down…it will be OK.”
Assistant coach Chris Clark remembers one of the first times he saw Arashma Parks play.
During a practice in Arashma Parks’ junior season at Springfield Commonwealth Academy in Massachusetts, Clark watched him clash against Hasahn French, who is now a freshman forward for St. Louis.
Clark immediately noticed Arashma Parks’ physicality, athleticism and his ability to finish at the rim.
“He plays like a football player, so now he’s going to have to start playing like a basketball player,” Clark said. “The physicality of the game, I think football helped him with that. And I think he’s still growing. If he’s a [6-foot-10] physical presence, who couldn’t use that?”
Though Arashma Parks can finish at the rim on a dunk or layup, Clark said he’s still raw offensively because of his inexperience.
Once Arashma Parks gets to Temple, he’ll need to continue to work on his post moves and ability to score with his back to the basket, Clark added.
“He’s only been playing organized basketball for four years,” Clark said. “He’s got a lot of playing to do, a lot of learning. I think once he gets that, I think he’s got a chance to be really good.”
In his senior season at The Phelps School, Arashma Parks starts games and learns from a former Owl.
Phelps School coach Brian Shanahan, a former Temple walk-on from 2005-07, has been giving Arashma Parks tips on what to expect on North Broad.
Some of those tips include ways Temple communicates on defensive, like keeping guys out of the paint, staying in a defensive stance, not getting screened off the ball and making sure a player hard hedges on the ball screens.
Arashma Parks ended up transferring to The Phelps School after playing his sophomore and junior seasons at Springfield Commonwealth Academy. He also played Amateur Athletic Union basketball for the PSA Cardinals in New York City under coach Terrance Williams during high school.
Williams’ connection with Shanahan and the chance to live closer to Spellman influenced Arashma Parks’ decision to transfer to The Phelps School from Massachusetts. In the past, Shanahan has landed former PSA Cardinals players like Connecticut redshirt-junior swingman Terry Larrier and Seton Hall University junior guard Quincy McKnight from Williams’ program.
“Any time I can get a kid from the PSA Cardinals, they’ve turned out to be very good players,” Shanahan said.
“Once [Arashma Parks] gets to Temple, his best basketball is definitely ahead of him,” he added. “He’s going to have a great college career.”