Duke All-American Jabari Parker entered the 2014 NBA Draft, announcing his decision in a thoughtful self-authored piece published by Sports Illustrated.
Parker said the tug of good friend and No. 1 overall recruit Jahlil Okafor joining him in Durham next season was legitimate, but Parker opted on Tuesday to thank coach Mike Krzyzewski for helping develop as a person and player in what will be his only season in college basketball.
"Ultimately, I boiled my decision down to two simple questions," writes Parker.
"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 was the No. 2-ranked recruit out of Chicago and is projected as a top-three pick in the 2014 draft. Kansas freshmen Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky freshman Julius Randle are also considered locks to be drafted near the top.
"My father, Sonny, played in the NBA. I know firsthand that the career span of a pro basketball player is finite," Parker wrote. "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. I have lived with great expectations ever since I dunked for the first time at age 14. I take losing very personally because I don't like letting people down. Not fans. Not teammates. Especially not Coach K. That's another reason why this decision has been so tough. I wanted to go out on a winning note.
Growing up I couldn't afford the newest gym shoes or the latest fashion fads. But I always had my milk crate nailed to a light post in the alley near my home in Chicago. That's where I fell in love with the game that has brought excitement and passion to my life. I am now ready to take the leap to the NBA. It's a dream come true."