BLOOMINGTON — Parker Wisdom could have left his hometown to play college golf. Instead, the Central Catholic High School senior standout found the pull too much from the hometown Division I school to leave.
Wisdom has announced he will sign a national letter of intent with Illinois State. The signing period begins Nov. 14.
“I made the decision between Southern Illinois Edwardsville and ISU. Both offered me,” said Wisdom. “It was super tough because SIUE has a great coach and great campus. There's really no issues. I loved it when I visited.”
But when Wisdom made an official visit to ISU with his parents, Matt and Lucy, and talked with Redbird coach Ray Kralis, he found out how much Kralis wanted him.
“I have a lot of family members who went to ISU,” he said. “I love the practice facilities they have outside (with the Mounier Golf Training Facility). They're just top notch. It's just amazing.
“Coach Kralis is a good guy and great coach. Being in town I know the area so well. I feel I can have a community rally behind me because people know me because I've grown up here and played golf here my whole life. It's a cool feeling because I didn't get that at SIUE.”
Wisdom already has enjoyed success at the Redbirds' home, Weibring Golf Club. He earned Class 2A All-State honors the last two years by finishing in the top 10 during the state tournament at Weibring (tied for fourth in 2016 and tied for sixth last year).
However, Wisdom really turned more than a few heads in July by finishing tied for 16th at the Illinois State Amateur Championship at his home course, Bloomington Country Club, firing a 2-under-par 68 in the final round. That made him the youngest player exempt into next year's State Am at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton.
Wisdom opened the high school season by firing a 5-under-par 67 and winning a playoff for medalist honors in the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational at Kellogg Golf Course.
“There's a marked improvement from his junior year to this year, especially from the State Amateur and being top 20 and exempt,” said Central Catholic coach Mike Wieting. “That almost puts him to the next level. He already knew he could do it, but now it gives him even more confidence.
“We talk and every day he knows he has to excel to compete at that level (at ISU). I think there's a big upside to his college career.”
ISU will graduate two of its regulars, Trent Wallace and David Rauer, in the spring. Wisdom knows he'll have a chance to play right away, but realizes it won't be easy.
“Those guys (at ISU) are sharks. I don't want to be thrown into the sharks and be eaten. I want to be thrown in and be a shark, you know? I want to tear it up too,” he said. “I'm a Redbird and have to play to that level now. I'm practicing harder because I know those guys are top-notch players.”
Wisdom believes working out with T.J. Kuster three days a week at the Training and Performance Center in Bloomington for the last two years has helped his fitness and strength level that has translated to his golf game, particularly hitting the ball longer off the tee.
Wieting believes Wisdom has shown he won't beat himself on the course like many younger players do.
“I've always said Parker is a thinker around the golf course. Course management he excels at that, and he's also a grinder,” said Wieting. “He will grind it out until the end. You put that together and he really hangs in there.”
NCAA rules prohibit Kralis from commenting on recruits until they sign.