Parker leaving Duke for NBA
The 6-8 All-American forward said yesterday he'll enter the NBA draft after being the highest-scoring freshman in Duke history. He was also the first freshman to lead the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding, and the first freshman in three decades to be selected team MVP.
Now he has the chance to do what Kyrie Irving did in 2011: follow a 1-year stay at Duke by being the first name called in the June draft.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement it was "an honor for us to have him in our program." In an essay posted on SI.com, Parker said the NBA offers him the best chance to develop both as a player and off the court.
Parker played in high school at Chicago's Simeon Career Academy and was frequently mentioned along with Kansas' Andrew Wiggins as possible No. 1 picks before ever playing a college game.
Parker led the Atlantic Coast Conference with an average of 8.7 rebounds while his 19.1 points were second only to North Carolina State's T.J. Warren, who entered the NBA draft last week.
"Jabari could not have been better," Krzyzewski said. "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.
"He had a fantastic freshman year and is so deserving of the opportunity to play in the NBA and follow his dream."
Parker is listed as the No. 2 draft prospect on Chad Ford's Top 100 on ESPN.com, the No. 2 pick in a mock draft on NBAdraft.net and No. 3 on DraftExpress.com.
In his SI.com essay, Parker said he had "gotten pretty attached to life at Duke and I don't want to utter the word goodbye." He also noted that the careers of professional basketball players - his father, Sonny, played six seasons in the NBA - last only so long.
"The lucky ones play until their mid-30s," Parker said. "With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college."
Also declaring for the draft yesterday was Kentucky guard James Young, becoming the first of the team's heralded freshmen to turn pro. The 6-6 Young led Kentucky with 82 three-pointers last season. He is projected as a first-round pick.
Forward Julius Randle and twin guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison are expected to announce their decisions soon, and 7-foot center Dakari Johnson might be mulling his options. Forward Marcus Lee plans to return.