LITHONIA - Tony Parker may have set a new record for the longest signing ceremony in recruiting history, with a seemingly endless stream of speakers and a highlight video with childhood photos.
Georgia fans and coaches certainly did not enjoy the end of the festivities, when Parker announced he would attend the UCLA. The Bulldogs were holding out hope, and one more scholarship, for the highly-touted Miller Grove High School center.
Parker, a 6-foot-9 center, would have been the jewel in Georgia's 2012 class. But Parker opted for storied UCLA, which has had a couple down seasons but now has the nation's top class, according to the recruiting services.
"I could've stayed home, but I don't think that would've been any pressure at all. To be home, to be around the people you've been around and be a hometown hero. I don't think that's pressure," Parker said. "I think that's probably the easy way out. If you go somewhere far, that's pressure."
Parker said he made his final decision last Thursday. Georgia and Ohio State were among his other two top choices.
"Georgia was a great school, is a great school. Mark Fox does a great job. He's getting great players and he's got a great class coming in right now," Parker said. "I just thought UCLA was more for me. I just thought it was better. I just thought the atmosphere was better."
Parker's announcement - he made it by unveiling a UCLA shirt beneath his button-down - capped a nearly hour-long ceremony. Among the speakers to offer his support prior to the announcement was one very interested party:
Brandon Morris, a Miller Grove teammate, signed with Georgia and is headed to Athens soon. Morris said he wasn't surprised by Parker's decision, and heard from a teammate that the choice would be UCLA.
"I guess that's a good fit for him," Morris said, before adding: "I thought Georgia was gonna get him. We're cool, we'll be good without him."
Still, Morris said he supported Parker "100 percent," saying he respected him and his decision. Morris said he also tried not to sway Parker during the recruiting process.
"Mark Fox and a lot of other coaches would always tell me to tell Tony things, and I would tell him, but I would try to respect him and the things he needed to think about," Morris said. "I would try to stay out of his way."
For Georgia fans ready to abandon hopes for the 2012-13 season, Morris said the program is still getting three solid recruits in himself, point guard Charles Mann and wing Kenny Gaines.
"My mindset was to work hard, whether Tony was there or not. So I'm there to give Georgia my 100 percent, 110 percent, and give them all my effort," Morris said. "I'll be there to bring my versatility to the 3 position. I can score the ball pretty well, I can get my teammates involved as well. I averaged like seven assists this year. I should be able to help the team. Charles brings a lot of length to the point guard position, and Kenny is very explosive, he can jump. So we'll still be good. We'll still be good in the SEC."
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