Jabari Parker declares for NBA Draft

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

Jabari Parker will be among the top picks in the NBA draft. (USATSI)
Jabari Parker will be among the top picks in the NBA Draft. (USATSI)

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Duke's Jabari Parker has declared for the NBA Draft.

Despite being essentially guaranteed to be a top-three or four pick in June's NBA Draft, Parker had yet to announce his intentions. In fact, there were some people who thought Parker might return to Durham.

On Thursday, though, he formally announced his decision.

“Coming out of high school, I knew that Duke was going to be a great fit for me and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life,” Parker said in a school-released statement. “I cannot thank Coach K enough for all his love and guidance. I had the opportunity to pick his brain throughout the year and it really paid off. I have learned how to be a man on and off the court and to be strong mentally going into practices and games. I appreciate him for challenging me to be better each and every day.”

Parker also wrote a statement to Sports Illustrated on why he made his decision.

In the end, he asked himself two questions that pushed him to the NBA:

Ultimately, I boiled my decision down to two simple questions:

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, a 6-foot-8 forward from Chicago, was the best freshman in the country this past season. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds, helping lead Duke to a 26-9 record.

“Jabari could not have been better. He is the epitome of what you would want a basketball player to be – outstanding everyday on the practice court and in the classroom and a very humble young man,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He had a fantastic freshman year and is so deserving of the opportunity to play in the NBA and follow his dream. It was an honor for us to have him in our program and he will always be a part of our family here at Duke. We will be on the Jabari Parker team the rest of our lives and we know Jabari and his family will be on the Duke team for the rest of their lives.”

Duke's season ended in disappointment, falling in the Round of 64 to Mercer, but even without Parker, Duke could still be the No. 1 team at the start of next season. The Blue Devils bring in the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, led by top-15 prospects Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, as well as top-30 guard Grayson Allen. Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson return as starters.

Along with Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Parker is among the top prospects in the NBA draft.

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