A look at Jabari Parker, one of the two strongest candidates to be the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft…
Why he might be No. 1: Parker is smooth. He finds space, can score from just about any angle and has a great feel for the game. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in one season at Duke, combining a high basketball IQ with a pro-level jumpshot to achieve immediate success. When he told reporters through the season that he might return for a second college season, not many believed him.
Why he might not be No. 1: Though he’s denied reports that he "tanked" a workout with the Cavaliers and showed up overweight last week, Parker told reporters on Wednesday that he felt he’d be going to the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 2. There are concerns about his defense and his weight gain since a foot injury the summer before his senior year of high school kept him sidelined for six months.
A gifted scorer who was listed at 6’8, 235 by Duke last season, he might still be growing. Parker just turned 19 in March. Whether he’s viewed as a traditional small forward — though he’s certainly not small — or a "stretch" four-man remains to be seen, but Parker’s game is viewed as NBA ready. He’s been prepared for this, having been dubbed as a top prospect and a blue-chip recruit since very early in his high school career.
A member of the LDS Church, Parker announced last spring he will not serve a two-year Mormon mission.
During his career at Chicago’s Simeon High School, Parker became the first non-senior to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award in 2012 and the second player in Illinois history to start for four consecutive state championship teams. He was part of gold medal-winning teams gold medals at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship and the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, winning MVP honors at the 2011 event.
His father, Sonny, was a first-round pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1976 and played six NBA seasons after starring at Texas A&M. Jabari Parker has two older brothers who played college basketball and two uncles who played in the NFL.
Sonny Parker handled Jabari’s college recruitment, barring coaches from contacting Jabari directly. A National Honor Society student who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high schooler and was dubbed as "the best high school player since LeBron James," Jabari ultimately chose Duke over BYU and Michigan State.