On National Signing Day, Blue Springs High School defensive/offensive lineman Daniel Parker got up at 7 a.m., signed his national letter of intent to attend the University of Missouri at 7:02, and it was being faxed to the college by 7:03.

“Short and sweet,” said Parker, who celebrated the signing day with his family and friends Saturday at the gymnasium located at the former St. Mary’s High School in Independence.

“We didn’t want to make a big deal out of the signing, but my family and I wanted to share it with all the members of my family and my friends, so we had this party.”

Saturday afternoon, the gym was filled with black and gold balloons, a variety of Tiger-themed treats and the lively conversation that often accompanies a big day like this.

“This is so special,” Parker said, as a game of pickup basketball was going on in the background. “The closer it gets, the more excited I get. I’m proud of what our teams did at Blue Springs, now, I’m excited about going to MU and playing with, and against, the best of the best.

“When I play against the best players it brings out the best in me, and I can’t wait to see what happens when I get to Missouri and start working out and preparing for next season.”

He said he has talked to former Wildcat Kaleb Prewett, who is now playing safety for the Tigers, and those conversations fuel his competitive fire.

“He tells me what it’s like to compete at that level, and I can’t wait,” Parker said. “He talks about the daily challenges – at practice and in games – and I love to be challenged.”

Parker conquered one big challenge in the William Jewell Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament (see separate story on B1) when he joined the 1,000-point club during a 74-67 win over Center.

“I almost made it our last game,” he said, grinning. “I needed 29 points and I got 27.”

As he made the comment, his mother, Jenni nods and smiles in agreement.

“I’m so proud of Daniel for coming back and playing basketball because it keeps him in shape and scoring 1,000 is special,” Jenni said. “He’s become such a great young man who has made an impact on a lot of lives – and many of those people are here today celebrating with our family.

“We are truly blessed.”