Make no mistake, 6-8 forward Jabari Parker of Simeon (IL) is not the “best high school basketball player since LeBron James”, as touted by Sports Illustrated last year. In fact, several class of 2013 members, like 6-8 forward Andrew Wiggins of Huntington Prep (WV), twin Kentucky guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison of Fort Bend Travis (TX), and beastly power forward Julius Randle of Prestonwood Christian (TX) can all lay legitimate claims to being both better current players and long terms prospects than Parker.
Still, Parker is both a skilled and nearly complete package as small forward, and likely to be an outstanding future collegian and beyond, as evidenced by his No. 3 rank in the Hoopniks.com Top 150 for the 2013 class. On Thursday, Parker ended his recruitment, committing to the Duke Blue Devils over the Michigan State Spartans, as well as a number of other suitors, including the Florida Gators, Stanford Cardinal and BYU Cougars.
With Parker, No. 20 Matt Jones (a shooting guard) and No. 36 Semi Ojeleye (a brawny wing), Duke is assured of a top 5 overall recruiting class nationally. That haul doesn’t include transfer forward Rodney Hood, who is sitting out this season following his transfer from the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Hood is, of course, a top-25 prospect from the 2011 recruiting class.
Parker is perhaps ideally suited to play small forward in the NBA, but he’s likely to get more than his fair share of time at Cameron Indoor Stadium at the “4”. A underclassmen backcourt of Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon seems locked in for at least another season, and a Hood/Parker frontcourt could be hard to guard for opponents. Parker continues to grow offensively, with a significant mid-range game and wise beyond his years effectiveness in the half court.
With two international playing experiences for the United States under his belt, Parker rates both as a seasoned and developed prospect, and a student-athlete with humility. He also has some knowledge of what to expect in playing on a large stage, as his father Sonny Parker is a former NBA player.
The last several months haven’t been overly kind to Parker, though, as he has battled nagging injuries and conditioning issues. He can be susceptible to weight gain, and a college strength and conditioning program following complete recovery this high school season will be to Parker and Duke’s future benefit.
Coach K and his Duke staff have long been successful in landing Chicago’s top prospects, with Corey Maggette, Sean Dockery and others in the past. Parker rates as a top flight prospect, and by all accounts person, and should be an outstanding fit in Durham, if only for one season.
Don’t expect Duke to forget the way to Chicago now with Parker in the fray, as 2014 center Jahlil Okafor is considered by many to be the top prospect in his class nationally, and has Duke among his top suitors.