It took a lot of sleepless nights for Jabari Parker to arrive at the point of knowing it’s time to chase his dreams.
After weeks of wrangling, days of enough back and forth machinations to leave his stomach churning like a rollercoaster, the Duke freshmen star announced on Thursday he is foregoing his last three years of college eligibility to join the ranks of the NBA.
The Association hardly ranks as a foreign land for the 19-year-old, potentially overall top draft selection. His father, Sonny, spent six years in the NBA and has long kept his son’s pulse regulated and mind clear in terms of arriving at this point.
Sonny Parker has been more than willing to share the breadth of all his experiences with his still teenage son, he just wants the record that show he wasn’t about to make this decision for him.
“It was his decision and his decision only,” the elder Parker told the Chicago Sun Times, claiming that to be so much the case that he ultimately had to find out his son’s plan at the same time he shared it with all the rest of Hoops Nation. “We completely support his decision. He wasn’t influenced by anyone.”
And in the end, that’s what now allows Jabari Parker to be so at peace with his choice, simply knowing the decision was his and his alone.
It’s the way Parker has always prided himself on raising his two sons; the way he’s always tried to interact with all the young men, NBA star Anthony Davis and Louisville national champion Wayne Blackshear among them, he’s served as a mentor to through his Sonny Parker Youth Foundation, where the motto and philosophy is “as a man thinketh, so is he.”
Adds Parker, “it all starts with instilling in each and every one of these kids the belief that they have the potential for greatness.”
Since his days at Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy, where he won four straight state titles and emerged as the top rated player in the nation, Parker has held that attitude. He cloaked himself in it during his one season at Duke playing under legendary Mike Krzyzewski enroute to becoming the top scoring freshmen in school history and earning the Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation’s top first- year player.
“Jabari could not have been better,” marveled Krzyzewski. “He is the epitome of what you would want a basketball player to be — outstanding every day on the practice court and in the classroom and a very humble young man. He 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.”
Now, Parker is set to take his talents and ironclad resolve for parts that remain unknown. Yet, you get the feeling you know just how all of this figures to play out.
In a draft world order where there’s no such thing as a sure thing, Jabari Parker easily rates as the closest thing to that status from among a pool that could also include Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Joel Embiid based on the many lessons he’s learned on and off the hardwood.
“I realize how much of a privilege and an honor it is to join the ranks of the NBA,” said Parker. “I will do everything in my power to help deliver championships to the franchise that drafts me. At the same time, I recognize the obligation to represent the league in an admirable way off the court.”
Draft day is still more than two months away and already Jabari Parker seems to have a can’t lose game plan.