Parsons happy getting taste of D-I hoops

RYAN PARSONS AND HIS Eastern Kentucky men’s basketball teammates will be eating pretty well today. “I think we’re having everything catered,” Parsons said. “Well, maybe everything except for the desserts.” All of it courtesy of Parsons’ homecoming this weekend. His father, Mike, the WVU deputy director of athletics, and mother, Julie, are putting out a spread for the team only a Colonel could appreciate. Parsons, a former Morgantown High basketball and baseball standout, is a junior walk-on at EKU. He has appeared in six games this season and has connected on 2 of 6 shots from 3-point range.
His journey began with his decision to play Division I basketball coming out of MHS.
“My only offer at a bigger school was to walk on at Eastern Kentucky,” Parsons said. “Coach (Jeff) Neubauer had his time at WVU (he was an aide to John Beilein), and that’s where we first started to build a relationship.
“I had other chances to go to a smaller school, but I decided I wanted to make a go of it at EKU.”
It was not an easy choice to make. You can take the walk-on invite at the bigger school, work your butt to the bone, and maybe get to a play a few minutes here and there.
Or you can go to the smaller school, get some more playing time and be the big man on the smaller campus.
Parsons said he made his decision to go to the Division I school with the thinking he wanted to push himself as hard as he could.
“I didn’t want any regrets,” he said. “When it’s all said and done years from now, I didn’t want to wake up one day wondering what would have happened if I had gone to a Division I school.
“I knew my role would be smaller here. I basically do whatever the coaches need me to do. Usually, I do a lot on the scout team. It’s a great team to be on, so I just continue to work and be prepared for the times I get to play.”
Parsons has appeared in 15 career games and he’s watched the program grow from a .500-type team his first two seasons to a team that is 10-2 this season and challenged 12th-ranked Illinois before losing by 13 on the road.
“That game was actually a lot closer than the final score,” Parsons said. “We were right with them at halftime and we kept it close for most of the second half. Illinois is very talented, so it was great effort on our part.”
It is a homecoming for Parsons today, and for Neubauer, too, although the two have tried to play it off some this week.
“We’ve talked about it some,” Parsons said. “Coach has tried to keep it just like any other game, but I knew he had some good times there. When he helped WVU go on that amazing run to the Elite Eight (in 2005), he still talks about those memories sometimes.”
Parsons is working toward his degree in sports management, not a bad gig considering his father has some inside connections. Ryan Parsons is set to graduate in May 2014, and said he is looking forward to going in his own direction.
“Nothing against college, but I think I’d like to get in some kind of management at the professional level,” he said. “I’m not sure working at the college level is for me.”
JUSTIN JACKSON is a sports reporter for The Dominion Post. Write to him at

Ryan Parsons