Duke freshman Jabari Parker has a decision to make. Jump to the NBA or stay in college for one more year.
In the immediate aftermath of the Blue Devils' loss to Mercer in the NCAA tournament Friday, Duke's star forward wasn't prepared to make any definitive statements about his future. If anything, Parker sounded like a man leaning toward coming back to Duke for a sophomore season.
With teary eyes after scoring only 14 points on 4-for-14 shooting, Parker told reporters his feeling at that moment was one of 'incompletion.'
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” his hometown newspaper the Chicago Tribune quoted him saying. “Don’t know what I’m going to do.”
All of this is perfectly normal and signifies nothing except that Parker was all-in this season with his coaches and teammates and it hurt him to see his season come to an end much earlier than he believed it would. Literally thousands of other college players can relate to that feeling.
But let's be honest. Once the sour feeling of being upset and not playing particularly well against Mercer wears off in a few days, Parker will confront the reality that he is likely a top-five pick in this year's NBA draft if he opts to turn pro.
Former Duke great Elton Brand recently said he believes Parker is the most NBA ready player in college this year. Parker averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds.
If he returns to play next season for coach Mike Krzyzewski, he would be subjecting himself to the possibility of suffering a major injury that could hurt his stock with the NBA and there are no guarantees the Blue Devils would have a drastically improved season or that they will get out of the round of 64 next March. Sure, history suggests they will, but is that really worth the risk?
The risk-reward ratio here leans too heavily in the NBA's favor. When it comes down to it, it would be another massive upset if Parker doesn't turn pro.
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