By Chris Chaney
When the Clermont Northeastern head varsity basketball coaching position came open late last month, the school fielded numerous qualified applicants, but Darnell Parker was the one that stood out above the rest.
Parker, the former head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach at Finneytown, is getting his first taste of varsity head coaching experience after spending time in the Glen Este program as a middle school coach, varsity volunteer assistant and player development advisor.
“I’m very excited to be at CNE,” Parker said. “I’m looking forward to multiple years of success at the school.”
A Findlay, Ohio native, Parker played varsity basketball for Findlay High School for four years and went on to play collegiate ball at Bluffton University under head coach Guy Neal. After earning a degree in business management and marketing, Parker moved his way south, first to Dayton and then into Clermont County when he assisted at Glen Este.
As a member of a new basketball regime at Finneytown under head coach Adam Griggs four years ago. During Parker’s time at Finneytown, the school won their first league title and remained as one of the top two teams in the Cincinnati Hills Conference each of the three years he was there.
“I had a very successful stint over at Finneytown and I’m very grateful to have been a part of that staff and program,” Parker said. “When the position opened up, I saw it posted and had my head coach over at Finneytown really encourage me that it would be a great position for me to have, especially knowing the area and kids already.”
Parker is familiar with the area thanks to an initial move to Batavia when he first got to the Cincinnati area as well as his involvement in the AAU circuit. Coaching the U15 team for Ohio Crossover Athletics, Parker has been in contact with much of the up-and-coming talent on the Eastside of Cincinnati for the past few years.
When the CNE job came open, an area that already felt like home had an opportunity to actually become his permanent residence.
Parker said the interview process was conducted around his ability to build and sustain a basketball program while also ensuring core values to develop solid young men.
From an Xs and Os standpoint, Parker plans to employ a motion offense that dictates what shots the Rockets get, not what shots the defense wants them to take.
“We want to push the basketball,” Parker said. “I’d rather shoot layups than jump shots, if we can get them. We want to get the ball up the floor and put pressure on the defense and look to score the ball.
“If we can get a shot in the first five seconds, we’ll take it. If it takes us a minute and a half to get our best shot, we will take it. We’re not going to allow any defense to dictate how we play offensively.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Parker wants to get into the opponents face and make them as uncomfortable as possible. He said depending on the situation, they could full-court press or just play half-court defense, but regardless of where CNE picks up their man, they will be in their face.
Similarly to his offensive philosophy, Parker wants to dictate the shots that the Rockets’ opponents are taking. Everything that he wants to do on the offensive end is precisely what he wants to prevent other teams from doing while CNE is on defense.
Parker will be demanding a certain attitude from his players both on the court and off.
“The motto for our team is ‘Our program. Our team. Our way.’” Parker said. “What that means is when we’re in a game, when we’re in a practice or when we’re in the classroom, there is a specific way that the CNE Rockets will go about their business. When we’re in the classroom, we’re going to hit our books hard and when we’re in the gym, we’re going to hit the floor hard and that’s how we’re going to do things, we’re going to do it our way.”