MARTIN, Tenn. – Parker Stewart made a name for himself in a short time at Tennessee-Martin. Now, he is hoping to hear his name called to play at the next level.
Stewart recently announced his intentions to test the waters of the National Basketball Association Draft. The Draft is scheduled to be held June 25 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Stewart, a six-foot, five-inch, guard will not hire an agent, and will sign with an NCAA-approved agent to help gauge whether or not to officially enter the Draft or to return to school at UT-Martin for 2020-21.
“It can’t do anything to hurt,” explained Stewart, who played in 25 of 29 games this past season and finished second on the team in scoring with 19.2 points per game.
He connected on 157 of 381 (.412) shots from the floor, including 71 of 204 (.348) from behind the arc. Stewart was also successful on 95 of 124 (.766) free throw attempts for the Skyhawks, who finished 9-20 on the season.
“(The season) didn’t go as planned,” Stewart explained. “I think we fought hard each time out, but we had some season-ending injuries that we seemed to be unable to overcome as a team.”
“I had a solid season,” Stewart added, “ … and that is the reason for the decision to go through the NBA process.”
Stewart, the son of UT-M coach Anthony Stewart, led the Skyhawks in assists this past season with 93 and added 4.6 rebounds per game. He also finished third on the team with 21 steals.
One of the top players coming out of high school in Tennessee in 2017, Stewart began his collegiate career at Pittsburgh where he was second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in three-point shooting as a freshman in 2017-18 with 2.7 treys per conference contest.
Stewart, who started 20 games in his first collegiate season and appeared in all 32 games that season, scored 9.1 points per game for the Panthers. He shot 71 of 184 (.386) from three-point range as a freshman and was 40 of 50 (.800) from the foul line. His 71 treys are a Pittsburgh record for a freshman and was just three off from cracking the school’s all-time top 10 list for a single season.
Perhaps his top game as a freshman came at Syracuse where he scored 23 points, including seven 3-pointers. He finished the year with 16 double-digit scoring performances.
Stewart said playing for his father at UT-M has seen its share of challenges.
“There is always going to be pressure when you are the coach’s son,” the young Stewart said. “People seem to have some expectations that are not always the same for others, but I’ve come to accept those expectations.”
He also said playing in the Ohio Valley Conference has helped make him a better player.
“The OVC is a lot stronger that it is credited for,” said Stewart who pointed out that two league players were selected in the Draft in 2019.
Murray State’s Ja Morant went No. 2 overall to Memphis and former Belmont standout Dylan Winder was selected by Cleveland with the 26th pick.
“I think that shows some good basketball is being played in the Ohio Valley Conference,” Stewart said.
Stewart is also a standout in the classroom and became the first-ever Skyhawk student-athlete to graduate in two years. He obtained his undergraduate degree in the summer of 2019 and is currently attending graduate school at UT-M.
Stewart helped his Union City (Tenn.) High School team to an 81-25 record in his three seasons at the school. He was the TSSAA Division 1 Class A player of the year finalist as a senior when he averaged 27.6 points, seven rebounds and three assists. He was named to the all-state team after being selected as the district MVP.
Stewart was quick to offer advice to aspiring young basketball players.
“Do everything you can to become better,” he said, “because somewhere someone else in out there getting after it.”
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.