Everyone who follows college basketball at least a little bit has heard of Andrew Wiggins. He is the most hyped college prospect in well over a decade. This recruiting class is not solely about Wiggins though, as it is one of the deepest classes in hisotry. Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight other standout recruits in a regular feature we will be running a few times a week. Today, we will have a look at Duke’s Jabari Parker.
Born in Chicago, IL, Parker was getting media attention from an early age. He attended Simeon Career Academy which waived it’s no freshman rule for varsity to allow Parker to play on the team. Players like Derrick Rose, Nick Anderson and Bobby Simmons also went to Simeon and had been forced to play junior varisty as a freshman, this was not the case for Parker.
Over the course of his high school career, he won two Gatorade Player of the Year awards and to Mr Basketball awards for the State of Illinois. Those awards usually go to seniors but Parker managed to win them as a junior and a senior. To get a handle on his talents, have a look at this highlight video of Parker’s high school career.
While the hype around Wiggins was massive, especially when he re-classified to the class of 2013 instead of 2014, Parker had almost just as much buzz. He was heavily recruited by practically every major program in the country.
Ultimately, it came down between Michigan State and Duke, while it looked like the Spartans had managed to get Parker to attend Michigan State, Parker shocked everyone when announced he had chosen Duke.
Parker can really do it all offensively. He is a combo forward, able to play both the Small and Power forward positions. At 6″8, 241 pounds, I would expect to see him line up at the 4 for Duke, especially due to his abilities to stretch the floor.
While he is big, he is very silky and smooth. He is poised with the ball in his hands and he knows what to do with it. He has a great shot form and he can knock it down from basically anywhere on the court. Parker is one of those players who is not afraid of the big games or the big moments and seems to thrive with the spotlight on him. He always has big games when he plays in nationally televised events and never seems to shy away from the moment.
Not only can he shoot, Parker is very unselfish. He is a great passer for his size and is able to look over offenses and find open men with great ability. Parker will also punish teams that try to double team him down low as he will quickly kick the ball back out to the open man for easy three opportunities.
From a rebounding perspective, he hits the board with tremendous effort on both ends of the court. He has great positioning and is very fundamentally sound when it comes to boxing out his man. He also has great instincts for the ball and knows where it will be coming off the rim. This is especially true off his own shots. He doesn’t assume his shots are going in and is always chasing after it which leads to numerous second chance abilities.
Unlike a lot of top forwards before him, Parker does not have any issues with his motor and effort level. He is always playing at his hardest and it shows on the court. He seems like a natural leader who leads by example on the court and works his hardest in practice. He is the perfect prototype for what a student athlete should be and what coaches look for because they know that he will perform on the court and never be a headache off the court.
These are few and far between as Parker is one of the most polished high school players in the nation. He definitely does need to work on his physique when he gets to College. He is not particularly athletic and he has a bigger body build. Duke will probably set him up with a strength and conditioning program the day he steps onto campus and knowing how hard Parker works, he will probably adhere to it very strictly.
On the court, he could stand to work on his handle if he wants to be a combo forward both in the NCAA and in the NBA. As of now, Parker is not really the type of player who can isolate his defender and beat him off the dribble. His ball handling skills are just not at that type of level.
Defensively, he will have to get better at staying in front of his defender, which means working on his lateral movements on the perimeter. This will come in time as he works on his conditioning because the two really go hand in hand.
What to expect in his freshman season:
Parker will be a star for the Blue Devils right away. I don’t expect that he will stay for more than one season but it should be quite a year for Duke. Parker should put up near double double numbers with high efficiency and great assist totals. He will be the leader of that team and should lead them well into the NCAA tournament.
There are few times when someone places such high expectations on someone who has yet to even play a minute of college ball but Parker is a legitimate blue chip prospect. He does everything well and he has ambition to continually improve. That is a rare thing in elite prospects and it will allow him to gain an edge on his competition.