The pull of Tom Izzo and a strong late push by Florida complicated Jabari Parker’s college decision more than he let on. But nothing, ultimately, could steer the nation’s top prospect [short of Andrew Wiggins] away from the nation’s top college team and head coach.
Not as long as Mike Krzyzewski is running Chicago.
Parker will play his college ball in Durham next season—and by his own admission, potentially several more. The heralded Simeon Academy standout chose Duke over BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford in a nationally broadcast announcement from his high school. The Spartans had long been considered the Blue Devils’ biggest opposition in the Parker sweepstakes, though Florida, Busting Brackets has learned, made a strong last impression as well.
Parker can’t sign his binding letter of intent until the spring.
A devout Mormon and former SI cover boy, Parker’s humility and lauded character have matched in quality his natural basketball talent. Whereas most recruitments of prominent prospects today are barefaced—carried out in the public for everyone to see—the Parker derby played out behind closed doors, keeping some of the most reliable recruiting sources in the dark.
Parker is recovering from a fractured right foot that sidelined him for most of the summer basketball season, including the Peach Jam in mid-July. He played through the injury for USA Basketball in the Under-17 World Championships, but had to sit out three games before returning in the championship game against Australia. Parker turned in 12 points in 14 minutes to turn a tightly contested finale into a romp.
Parker’s high school basketball career has been one of the most decorated in prep school history. The versatile 6-foot-8 forward became an overnight sensation as a freshman, becoming the first frosh to ever start at Simeon, the same school that once produced former Memphis and current Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose. Parker already has three Illinois state titles under his belt and is in search of his fourth, an unprecedented clean sweep.
Coach K has an unblemished history of monopolizing the Chicago recruiting market. A Windy City native himself, Krzyzewski has pried such regional talent as Jon Scheyer, Sean Dockery, Corey Maggette and Michael Thompson. Jabari Parker is his biggest recruiting coup out of the area to date.
Thursday’s long-awaited decision reaffirms Krzyzewski’s status high atop the coaching hierarchy. Among the who’s who of the coaching elite, K protrudes as a giant among lesser giants, even dwarfing the legacies of some of the game’s other immortals. His reputation as basketball’s greatest active coach [at any level] earned him the most celebrated high school player nationwide, Krzyzewski’s third top-five recruit in four years.
So much for all the cock-and-bull that Duke doesn’t land top-flight talent.