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Jabari Parker is headed to the NBA

Apr 17, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT

source: Getty Images

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MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Jabari Parker announced his intentions to head to the NBA on Thursday afternoon, releasing a statement through Sports Illustrated.

Parker was a first-team All-American in his one season at Duke and is expected to be a top three pick in the NBA Draft. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 boards this season despite going through a slump during the middle of the season. Parker’s as versatile of a scorer as you’ll find at this level — he overpowers smaller defenders in the paint, he beats bigger defenders off the dribble, he’s got three-point range and he can dunk in traffic over shotblockers — but the question mark with him is on the defensive end of the floor. He’s got a ways to go before he can be considered above-average defensively.

Believe it or not, there was actually some doubt as to whether or not Parker would actually turn pro. He’s a different dude, and I mean that as a compliment. He’s quite religious, he’s an excellent student and he’s the kind of curious mind that values his education and experience at Duke as much as he would value the chance to make millions at the NBA level. It’s clear in the lengthy statement that he released on Thursday, in which he discusses his intentions to return to school and earn his degree — “I was an honor student when I arrived at Duke, and I’d like to graduate as one,” he wrote — and is decision not to go on a Mormon mission as much as he does he thought on becoming a professional basketball player.

In the end, here is what Parker said determined his choice to enter the NBA Draft:

Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player?

Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court?

The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA.

There is something else. My father, Sonny, played in the NBA. I know firsthand that the career span of a pro basketball player is finite. The lucky ones play until their mid-30s. With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college. It’s ironic, but true.

Duke will be just fine without Parker. They add a loaded recruiting class, headlined by Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, and return guys like Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson and Quinn Cook. They were No. 2 in our Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 with the assumption that Parker, and Rodney Hood, were bound for the league.

  1. cmart0907 - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Duke would have been easily a top three team with him. Jabari is a star in the making.

    • dunkdynasty - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      Duke already had him and they were just yet another Coach K first round exit.

  2. snipedanglecelly13 - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    I’m predicting he ll be a laker

  3. mvp43 - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    Milwaukee would be a good fit with the young talent already on the roster. Plus Wojo is at Marquette…

    • tackandcover - Apr 17, 2014 at 6:32 PM

      What talent? Dead last in the NBA standings. The people in MKE are drooling all over themselves over the possibility of Parker playing there. The NBA has told the Bucks that they have until 2017 to build a new facility as the Bradley Center fails to meet current NBA requirements. The new owners of the Bucks and Herb Kohl have pledged $100 million each to help fund a new arena. Given that a new arena could easily reach $1 billion (see the Nets and Golden State Warriors) is the taxpayer expected to pony up $800 million to watch a kid, one year out of high school, shoot hoops? No thanks. Not now, not ever.

  4. knoxxlive - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    It’s obvious he was going to the league, actually I don’t think he shoulda even recruited him, the state of NC lit a fire under coach K behind because he let John wall waltz right out of the triangle (Dukes Backyard) and he still turned out pretty good, I think he coulda did the same with Parker, duke players never really do that good in the NBA anyway cause there not tough! There just well coached !!! Jabari is a lil smarter tho, he’ll be different , if coach K wants longevity in his players he’ll stay out of the top 10 prospects and just grab players to fit his system (Wisconsin)

  5. oruacat2 - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    “Believe it or not, there was actually some doubt as to whether or not Parker would actually turn pro. He’s a different dude, and I mean that as a compliment.”

    Sure, he’s a different dude, right up to the point where he’s not.
    There was never any doubt about his intentions, despite Parker saying all the right things in that statement.
    He’s just like every other kid who wants to pursue his NBA dreams – let’s not turn this into something it’s not just because the word “Duke” was on his uniform.

  6. oruacat2 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    “I think in college they give you a chance to really mature, form yourself and build relationships. I think that’s what a team is all about, and when you build relationships, it shows on the court and that brings out success. I love the whole attitude of staying in college to take advantage of a free education. I just felt like Kentucky wasn’t a fit for me. The whole attitude and approach of the one-and-dones, that’s good for them, that’s their decision. But I think [Duke] Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] is a guru of basketball. I want to learn from one of the best.”

    Really, the only difference is UK and Calipari are up front and honest about it.

  7. dunkdynasty - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    To be fair to Parker, he really did struggle with this decision. His options were either to make tons of money on a mediocre roster that he can hopefully turn into a team that’s barely a playoff contender, or to go pro and take his chances in the NBA.

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