This has been a breakthrough year for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mitt Romney captured the Republican presidential nomination. Manti Te'o led the Notre Dame football team to an undefeated regular season and a No. 1 ranking. And now the nation's top basketball prospect, Jabari Ali Parker, has taken a recruiting trip to Brigham Young University, the flagship school of the faith—because not only is he an athletic prodigy, he is a devout Mormon.
And Parker is black. According to survey data, worldwide black membership in the LDS is somewhere between 1 and 3 percent. Though the Mormon Church does not keep records based on race and ethnicity, one estimate is that out of 6.2 million Latter-Day Saints in the the U.S., only 186,000 are of African descent. The convergence of his race, his religion, and his status as a top college basketball prospect makes him a unicorn-grade rarity, and makes this an unprecedented opportunity for BYU athletics.