DURHAM: Duke's Jabari Parker will enter NBA Draft - WRBL

Duke's Jabari Parker will enter NBA Draft

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DURHAM, N.C. - Duke freshman Jabari Parker will enter the 2014 NBA Draft head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Thursday.

Parker, a consensus first team All-America selection, joins Corey Maggette (1999), Luol Deng (2004), Kyrie Irving (2011) and Austin Rivers (2012) as Blue Devil freshmen to enter the NBA Draft after just one year of college basketball.

Parker is expected to be one of the top three picks in the June 26 draft.

“Jabari could not have been better. He is the epitome of what you would want a basketball player to be – outstanding everyday on the practice court and in the classroom and a very humble young man,” said Krzyzewski. “He had a fantastic freshman year and is so deserving of the opportunity to play in the NBA and follow his dream. It was an honor for us to have him in our program and he will always be a part of our family here at Duke. We will be on the Jabari Parker team the rest of our lives and we know Jabari and his family will be on the Duke team for the rest of their lives.”

Parker will turn pro and leave what could have been a juggernaut Blue Devils team this fall, but one that still could be among the nation's best. The Blue Devils have staggering talent in their incoming freshman class with four players ranked either the best or among the best at their positions. Those players are:

* Tyus Jones, the top point guard prospect in the nation
* Jahlil Okafor, the top center prospect in the county
* Justise Winslow, a top-rated small forward
* Grayson Allen, a top-rated shooting guard

They will join Rasheed Sulaimon, Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson and Rodney Hood, although Hood could decide to turn pro as well.

Parker led Duke to a 26-9 record, a 13-5 mark in conference play and the ACC Championship game last season, but the Blue Devils continued to be disappointing in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils, with a team built on three-point shooting and the individual talents of Parker, lost to unheralded Mercer in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Raleigh.

Overall, Parker, the 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward from Chicago, averaged 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 assists per game while setting or tying Duke freshman records for points (670), points per game, rebounds (306), double-doubles (14), free throws made (160), free throws attempted (214), dunks (61), double-figure scoring games (33), 20-point games (18) and double-doubles (14).

“Coming out of high school, I knew that Duke was going to be a great fit for me and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life,” said Parker. “I cannot thank Coach K enough for all his love and guidance. I had the opportunity to pick his brain throughout the year and it really paid off. I have learned how to be a man on and off the court and to be strong mentally going into practices and games. I appreciate him for challenging me to be better each and every day.”

Parker also became the first Duke freshman (12th freshman in ACC history) to lead the team in scoring and rebounds. He closed out the year ranked fourth among ACC freshman all-time in scoring and 10th in rebound average. Parker and Joe Smith (Maryland) are the only two players to rank in the top 10 of both categories.

His top performance came when he scored a career-high 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds in a March 8 win over North Carolina. The 30-point game was the fifth in school history by a freshman and the first since Kyrie Irving had 31 against Michigan State on Dec. 1, 2010. Parker’s 30-point effort was the most by a Duke freshman in the 238-game series history with North Carolina, breaking the previous freshman record of 29 points set by Austin Rivers on Feb. 8, 2012.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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