Parker Opts to Leave Duke
The Duke Blue Devils historically get what and whom they want.
In terms of collegiate basketball, of course.
But they lost their consensus All-American today. Jabari Parker decided to declare for the NBA draft.
He follows in the footsteps of former one-and-done Dookies Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, Corey Maggette, and Austin Rivers.
It was a double-barreled debarture for the Blue Devils. Not only was Parker a magnificent frontcourt phenom who took the ACC by storm -- averaging 19.1 points per game and 8.7 rebounds -- he was also a member of the All-ACC Academic squad. In order to be eligible for the latter award, a player must average a 3.0 in the classroom.
Parker was no bonehead by any means, although rival Chapel Hill fans might disagree out of spite.
After taking some time to discuss his decision with his inner circle, Parker decided that leaving Duke behind to pursue a career in the NBA would best suit him. And you can't blame him here. He's projected to go in the top five and be an immediate contributor to whichever franchise drafts him.
Usually, money is the main motive in these situations, and it may be here, too. But Parker has been waiting for this. Although Duke's NCAA run ended rather abruptly -- Mercer, of all teams, upended them in the second round -- his dream has always been able to play professionally. Frankly, dudes with his aspirations have to strike while the iron is hot. There's no telling what may or may not happen within a year if Parker decided to return to school. A severe injury, for example could completely derail this career path.
The 6-8 forward capitalized on his opportunity at Duke, and now it's time to move on the bigger and better things. Wags would say 'better' because he probably won't hear a coach demanding him to play defense. For much of the past season, that seemed like a foreign concept to him. The Mercer game could have been Exhibit A.
Unfortunately for him, that bigger and better thing includes the presence of LeBron James and bulky bangers, one of whom wishes hoopsters could be like hockey players and settle accounts with their fists. Still, there are enough elbows thrown and knees dropped to make the NBA season an 82-game gauntlet.
Parker should be able to cope with that. No matter what, though, he'll have that cream-of-the-crop signing bonus.