Jabari Parker has decided to give up his final three years of eligibility at Duke and enter the NBA draft. The 19-year-old consensus first-team All-American announced his decision on Thursday in a column he wrote for Sports Illustrated.
“On Tuesday I thanked Coach K for preparing me to become a professional,” Parker wrote. “I expressed my appreciation to him for helping me grow so much as a person and a basketball player. And he reminded me how successful a season it was for our team and me personally. I told him that he is always going to be my coach. But the time has come for me to join the best basketball league in the world.”
Parker averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in his freshman season with the Blue Devils. He had one of his worst games of the season in an upset loss to Mercer in the NCAA Tournament, but he is still expected to be a lottery pick. He said the difficult decision ultimately came down to how short an NBA career can be.
“My father, Sonny, played in the NBA. I know firsthand that the career span of a pro basketball player is finite,” Parker said. “The lucky ones play until their mid-30s. With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college. It’s ironic, but true.”
After Duke’s season came to a disappointing end, many speculated that Parker might return to play another season under Coach K. As Seth Davis put it during his interview with Larry Brown Sports earlier this month, there are worse things than being a sophomore in college.
With a 6-foot-8, 235-pound frame, Parker has a great NBA body. There’s no reason to believe he won’t thrive with a bit of fine-tuning.