Duke’s Jabari Parker to enter NBA Draft


John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The guessing game is over. No more theoretical situations on how well Duke will do next year if Jahlil Okafor and Jabari Parker stood side by side on the court.

Contrary to what Duke fans wanted him to do, freshman phenom Parker has entered the NBA Draft.

“I know it’s going to hurt a lot of people but I think need to do what’s best for me,” Parker said in an interview. “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.”

Parker didn’t consult many people for his decision other than his parents.

“They simply said it was my decision and they would stand behind me either way. They just want me to be happy,” Parker said.

Parker didn’t want to disappoint his coach.

“He’s much more than a coach to me. He’s been a father figure,” Parker said. “He’s taught me a lot about the game and what it will take to succeed in the NBA. But he’s taught me even more about life. In our discussions he has made no attempt to talk me into staying. He has simply told me the pros and cons.”

“Jabari could not have been better. 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,” Duke coach Mike Krzysewski said in a statement Thursday. “He had a fantastic freshman year and is so deserving of the opportunity to play in the NBA and follow his dream.”

The statement was released two days after Parker was awarded with the Wayman Tisdale Award, an honor showcasing the best freshman in the nation.

Parker’s statistics proved he was just that, one of the best freshmen in the game. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. He wrote himself into the Duke record books by setting (or tying) Duke freshman records. He scored 670 points on the season and put up 306 rebounds. In his time at Duke he recorded 14 double-doubles, 33 double-figure scoring games, and 18 20-point games.

What’s next for Parker?

“I’m trying to just prepare myself for the best talent in the world,” Parker said in an interview. “I want to get into the gym, work hard… I’m still going to be a part of the Duke program no matter what.”

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