Aside from a major injury, there is probably only one thing that could stop Duke freshman Jabari Parker from going in the top five of the 2014 NBA Draft. That would be if he chose to stay in school, which most people would tell you is a ridiculous thought. According to one report, Parker is actually leaning toward returning to Duke for his sophomore season.
Sam Smith of Bulls.com wrote on Monday that there is a “growing view among NBA executives” that Parker will not enter the draft after the season.
And the growing view among NBA executives seems to be Jabari Parker will not leave Duke this year. Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor, a Parker friend and big man, is going to Duke next season. Parker is a bright young man with a strong family and the feeling is he understands both the importance of education and feels he owes Duke and the chance to have a great Duke team, which more than likely is the next two seasons. Plus, Parker has seen what staying in school has done for other greats compared with the tough starts for even stars like Kobe Bryant.”
Typically with freshman stars like Parker, the risk of an injury is far too frightening to pass up a secure financial future. That said, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has a reputation for getting players to remain in school and reconsider their one-and-done decisions. And Parker did cite Coach K as the main reason why he chose Duke out of high school.
A lot can change between now and April. As Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk mentioned, Parker could suffer a minor injury that could spook him enough to realize how fragile a career can be. I highly doubt any college players look at Kobe Bryant as an example of why they shouldn’t turn pro early. If Parker stays, good for him. If not, can you really blame him?