Normally, I will err on the side of saying that players should return to school for more seasoning instead of making the jump to the NBA after just a year or two of college basketball.
But I support Jabari Parker’s decision to make himself eligible for the NBA draft following just one season at Duke.
Of all the talented freshmen in college basketball this season, I was most impressed with Parker’s game. He is the complete package, a 6-8 small forward who can handle the ball and score inside or outside.
While I doubt that Parker will be as good as LeBron James or Kevin Durant, I think he has the potential to become a perennial All-Star at the level just below those greats, who are arguably the top two players in the game.
Besides his obvious talent, I believe the former Simeon High School standout has the mental makeup to get the most out of his physical ability.
In an essay for Sports Illustrated released on Thursday, Parker wrote:
“I realize how much of a privilege and an honor it is to join the ranks of the NBA. I will do everything in my power to help deliver championships to the franchise that drafts me. At the same time, I recognize the obligation to represent the league in an admirable way off the court.”
Most observers view Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins as the best player in this draft, but I rank Parker ahead of Wiggins.
Parker averaged 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 assists this season while setting or tying Duke freshmen records for points (670), double-doubles (14), double-figure scoring games (33) and 20-point games (18).
“Jabari could not have been better,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “He is the epitome of what you would want a basketball player to be – outstanding every day on the practice court and in the classroom and a very humble young man. He had a fantastic freshman year and is so deserving of the opportunity to play in the NBA and follow his dream.”
Whatever team ends up with the No. 1 pick, it could do a lot worse than Parker.
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Video highlights of Jabari Parker's freshman year at Duke:
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