One of the most hyped freshmen heading into 2013--14, the 6'8" forward lived up to expectations—before the tournament anyway—and averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds at Duke. Parker has made himself eligible for the NBA draft in June.
DAN PATRICK:How close was the decision to turn pro?
JABARI PARKER: It was pretty close. I took a long time.
DP:Did it almost go the other way?
JP: It almost did.
DP:Did the first-round NCAA tournament loss to Mercer affect your decision?
JP: Kind of. That ruined my dream of succeeding in the tournament.
DP:Were you embarrassed by the loss?
JP: I was at the moment. But my coach [Mike Krzyzewski] said one loss shouldn't define a season. We did some things we were proud of.
DP:What do you think about a rule that would require college players to stay two years before going to the NBA?
JP: I think that's ridiculous. People can enroll in [military] service, but they [can't have] the opportunity to provide for themselves and apply for a job in the NBA?
DP:Would you have gone to the NBA out of high school?
JP: No, I needed a year in college.
DP:Who was your favorite player growing up?
JP: Magic Johnson.
DP:You didn't even see him play.
JP: But I was a fan of the Hardwood Classics on NBA TV.
DP:Could you play point guard?
JP: I would like to play [that position]. I think I'd do a pretty good job.
DP:Did you grow up modeling your game after Magic?
JP: The versatility. Specifically the game he played against the Sixers in the [1980 Finals] when he played every position. That's something I wanted to pattern my game after.
DP:Was taking a Mormon mission a possibility?
JP: That was a possibility. I had to [choose] basketball because I was more prepared on that end.
DP:Did Coach K yell at you this season?
JP: Of course. He challenges his best players more than average players. Like myself and Rodney [Hood].
DP:What's he say to you if you do something wrong?
JP: He'll probably take me to the side and say, C'mon son, you gotta take your head out of your you-know-what! I was like, Coach, you're right about that.
DP:Which NBA player are you most similar to?
JP: A lot of people say Carmelo Anthony.
DP:But you pass the ball?
JP: Yeah, I pass. But I have a team.
DP:So Melo doesn't have a team?
JP: I don't think so.
DP:Would you take Carmelo's career?
JP: I'd be satisfied with that. That's a great career.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Jadeveon Clowney faced a unique challenge last season: "Most players, to be the No. 1 pick, they have to have a super junior or senior year, and they vault themselves into the No. 1 position. He was already there. He had nowhere to go but down." ... NBA draft prospect Julius Randle said Kentucky coach John Calipari didn't try to persuade him to stay in school. "He didn't really see a reason for me to," Randle told me. "Just because of how defenses played me, he thinks the next level will be a better style of play for me." ... I asked NCAA president Mark Emmert why a player like Johnny Manziel couldn't profit from his own image. Emmert cited competitive fairness: "You'd wind up in a model where students would be hired away from one school to another based on the kind of endorsement contract they could offer."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
PORTER BINKS (PARKER)
BILL FRAKES/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (SPURRIER)
ANDREW HANCOCK FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (RANDLE)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (EMMERT)