One of the main features in the extraordinary freshman class in College Basketball, Jabari Parker has been picking a lot of attention from NBA teams this season. Despite being projected as one of the top lottery picks in the next NBA draft, many assume that he’ll most likely stay in College with Duke for another season.
The quality of the projected draft class, which includes Parker, Julius Randle (Kentucky), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) and Joel Embiid (Kansas) has a lot of teams thinking about the draft from before the season began, and creating a situation of quite a few teams tanking, or doing their best impression of that, since this season began.
Even though finishing with the worst record in the league gives you only a 25% of getting the top spot, many teams have set up their rosters in order to “fail” and give themselves a very good chance of ending up with a bad record and improving their chances of a top pick.
According to Sam Smith of Bulls.com, Parker, a Chicago native, might actually prefer staying with Duke for another season. Why? Because this season isn’t going according to plan on a team level, with Duke losing four times this season and twice in the ACC, and Parker is a bright young man with a strong family and the feeling is he understands both the importance of education and feels he owes Duke and the chance to have a great Duke team, which more than likely is the next two seasons. A good friend of his is coming to Duke next season (Jahlil Okafor), and Parker might also be thinking that one more year of college will help him settle in the NBA when his pro career begins.
How much is this true? We won’t know until the NCAA tournament ends. I’m not sure Parker actually owes Duke anything; he does get a scholarship for them, but he is one of a long list of basketball stars helping the university generate millions without any of it going to him.
Marcus Smart surprised everyone last season by staying another year with Oklahoma State despite being a projected top 5 pick. It’ll be a huge shock if Parker decides to stay with Duke for a second year, especially if he continues to play at this (or better) level, averaging 19.1 points and 7.3 rebounds so far.