Jabari Parker will announce his decision by April 27 to either remain at Duke for another season or enter the NBA draft and turn pro.
It's been a decision that Parker has reportedly agonized over much more than many expected entering the 2013-14 season. Parker was expected to be a top draft pick and an obvious one-and-done. But after losing to Mercer in the NCAA tournament, Parker said his college career felt incomplete.
There are reasons for Parker to stay at Duke and reasons to leave. Staff writer Mark Thompson took some time to explore those reasons prior to Parker's decision.
Top three reasons to return to Duke
1. The head coach. — Parker doesn't need to leave to receive elite coaching. If Parker leaves, he's likely going to a below-average NBA team with an unstable coaching staff and front office. If he stays at Duke, he gets to spend another year with the coach of Team USA. If Mike Krzyzewski is good enough for LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, he's good enough for Jabari Parker.
2. College career completion. — That's more than just alliteration. Parker was upset after losing to Mercer. When asked if what his career was missing was an NCAA tournament win, he nodded. By returning to school, Parker can leave the way he wants to — with an NCAA tournament win. Chances are, Duke won't lose in the first round of the next year. And on top of that, Parker may be able to work from the perimeter (where he will likely play in the NBA) with Jahlil Okafor coming to Duke.
3. It's college! — Parker has friends and memories in Durham from his freshman year at Duke. Staying in school might mean forfeiting some potential earnings, but leaving for the NBA would mean forfeiting any future memories at Duke. In a recent interview, Parker said NBA money would be nice but it's not an absolute necessity right now for him or his family. If Parker really likes college, and we know from his Jabari Bars that college loves him, he should come back.
Top three reasons to enter the NBA Draft
1. The dream. — Parker most likely grew up dreaming of playing in the NBA and hitting the game-winning shot in the NBA Finals. Not in a Duke jersey. If Parker's dream was to play at Duke, he would have likely committed soon after he was offered. He wouldn't have described the decision to commit to Duke over other schools as "tough" if his dream was to play at Duke. Parker no doubt enjoyed his freshman year at Duke or he would have likely declared by now. But the reality is, Parker, and players of his caliber, tend to grow up with bigger dreams than college hoops.
2. The money. — Parker won't improve his draft stock much by returning to Duke. By all accounts, Parker is a top three NBA draft pick and could be the top overall selection. Anthony Bennett, the top draft pick in last year's draft made $5.3 million this season as a rookie. Otto Porter, last year's No. 3 overall pick made $4.3 million. So either way, Parker would be turning down a lot of money and a very comfortable lifestyle.
3. The competition. — Nearly every elite athlete is highly competitive. Parker is no exception. And every competitive person needs challenge. Parker has the opportunity to put himself on the same floor with the best basketball players in the world next year. When he's watching game film of Durant, it's probably a casual night of television. Parker could be studying Durant because it will soon be his job to defend him. That's quite the draw, and the best way to push himself will be playing against he best competition.