NC State’s Dennis Parker Jr. says he’s cleared to return from a lengthy absence due to illness

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — North Carolina State looks likely to have another option off the bench for the Final Four with the return of freshman Dennis Parker Jr. from a lengthy illness.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound guard has missed the last 10 games, which included the five-game run to the program’s first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title since 1987 and then pushing to the first Final Four since 1983.

Parker hasn’t disclosed the nature of the illness, but said Friday he was cleared to return this week and fully practiced Thursday after gradually building up his conditioning and strength.

Parker averaged 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds in 29 games, which included a run of 11 straight starts from mid-December and into ACC play in January.

Parker said the team’s trainer had originally told him he would likely miss the rest of the season, but the Wolfpack kept winning long enough for him to be back for Saturday’s matchup against Purdue and 7-foot-4 big Zach Edey — who was named The Associated Press men’s college basketball national player of the year for the second straight season Friday.

“If I get sent out there to just foul the big boy, like, I don’t even care,” Parker said. “I’m just enjoying the moment, honestly.”


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