Jabari Parker is leaving Duke for the NBA, which is no surprise at all. Parker, the most complete freshman in the country – and perhaps the “best” rookie in the sport since Kevin Durant – will be a Top 3 pick, probably after the Kansas tandem of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. Depending on who wins the lottery, Parker could certainly go 1st overall.
Parker revealed his decision in a piece for Sports Illustrated with Jeff Benedict:
Ultimately, I boiled my decision down to two simple questions:
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.
The story here, though, is Duke, which will lose Parker and wing Rodney Hood to the draft – the latter is expected to go in the lottery, possibly in the Top 10 – but the Blue Devils are still expected to open next season as the No. 1 team in the country. It’ll be fashionable to bash Duke following another NCAA Tournament letdown, and the fact that they love the 3-pointer in the postseason, but we’re talking about a team that returns three rotation players (Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson) to go along with the best recruiting class in the country. Toss in Marshall Plumlee, who improved a bit as a sophomore and should be better by December, considering he’ll be going against Jahlil Okafor in practice, and you’re going to have a well-rounded team that should win the ACC and get back to the Final 4.