Simeon basketball star Jabari Parker has accomplished quite a bit at the age of 18. He’s ranked no. 2 in the country, he’s already had his own spread in Sports Illustrated, been named the Gatorade National Player of the Year and is one of the most anticipated high school players since Lebron James. Last night Parker finally made his collegiate decision and our Chicago native has decided to play basketball for Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils next year.
They were all lined up like ducks in a row, a Stanford hat, a Michigan State hat, a Florida hat, a Duke hat, and BYU hat. Media was literally almost drooling to see which brim Parker put on his head. In the end, Duke represented the “best fit” for the young player’s talents, personality, and academic goals.
To Jabari the quality of the education he will receive is just as important as the quality of competition he’ll see on the basketball court.
During his Thursday afternoon press conference Parker said, “It’s been a blessing just to get an opportunity to be able to go to school for free. It’s a good thing for me as well as my family to be able to save them a couple of dollars in their pocket.” I don’t think he’s looked at the bigger picture yet…if he performs up to expectations he’ll be able to pay for 100 kids tuition with his NBA salary. What a modest young guy.
One thing that sets Parker apart from the rest of the new recruits is his devote Mormon faith. At the end of his freshman year in college Jabari will have to decide whether he will declare for the NBA draft or—like thousands of other Mormon men who turn 19—embark on a two-year mission to spread the faith in the U.S. or a foreign country. This missionary service is considered an obligatory “priesthood duty” in the Mormon faith.
That’s a pretty tough decision for someone with such strong religious beliefs. We’ll all see what Jabari chooses when the time comes even though we all know deep down inside he follows in the footsteps of Derrick Rose and choose to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls :-).