After many months of speculation, Jabari Parker has made his decision of where he’ll be playing college basketball. And the golden goose of the college basketball recruiting world will be taking his talents to Durham, N.C.
Standing in front of his friends, family and a large television audience at Chicago Simeon High, the 6-foot-8 small forward Parker announced his intentions to attend Duke following a long recruiting process.
“I just chose Duke because it’s a perfect fit for me,” Parker said. “I think Coach Krzyzewski, it’s on his resume. He’s just interested and played a key hand in my development, even throughout high school and just telling me basic things and what I need to do.”
Since Parker can’t sign until the spring, MSU head coach Tom Izzo can’t comment on Parker’s decision, per NCAA rules. However, Izzo reportedly met with Parker on Wednesday and left a team practice early last week to attend Parker’s national television game on ESPN against DeSoto (Texas) High.
Parker’s decision leaves the experience-heavy Spartans with zero recruits heading into the 2013-14 season with only senior center Derrick Nix set to leave. The Spartans will have three seniors including Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, juniors Branden Dawson, Brandan Kearney and Travis Trice and sophomores Gary Harris, Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello.
Parker arguably was the most sought after recruit for MSU since Earvin “Magic” Johnson more than three decades ago. Often referred to as the most talented recruit to come out of high school since LeBron James, Parker’s scoring, passing and versatility have drawn comparisons to fellow Chicago native Derrick Rose and NBA veteran Paul Pierce.
Following his junior season, Parker was named the national men’s basketball Gatorade Player of the Year as well as the ESPN High School Player of the year for his class level. Parker’s ranking dropped after he fractured his left foot during the summer, which forced him to sit out for five months.
Parker reportedly has limited mobility and has gained weight due to the long layoff, which was evident in a lethargic five-point showing against DeSoto. However, Parker still is considered one of the most exciting players in the nation and likely will vault his new team into the college basketball stratosphere.
Parker gained a tremendous amount of notoriety when Sports Illustrated put the 17-year-old basketball phenom on the cover in May in a story that placed his talent along the lines of James while comparing the conviction to his faith to New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow.
In June, Parker sent out a tweet narrowing his recruiting scope to 10 teams which included Kentucky, Stanford, MSU, Kansas, Florida, Duke, BYU, Georgetown, Depaul and North Carolina before later adding UConn to the list. The list was slimmed to five in October with MSU and Duke largely being considered as the favorites with Florida, BYU and Stanford rounding out the finalists.
Earlier in the week, a panel of writers at the Chicago Sun Times predicted Parker would pick Duke over MSU with Florida also receiving consideration. Others, including CBSsports.com, also predicted Parker would choose Duke, though the Spartans still were in consideration due to the proximity to Parker’s home.
Izzo reportedly spent the afternoon in Flint, Mich., with former Spartan Mateen Cleaves’ father, Herbert Cleaves, who was coming out of a major surgery.