Duke’s Jabari Parker still uncertain if he’ll declare for NBA draft

Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker said he'll make his announcement early next week.

Gerry Broome/AP

Duke’s Jabari Parker has an important decision to make by Tuesday.

The freshman forward is debating whether or not to declare for the 2014 NBA draft.

Parker and Creighton forward Doug McDermott, who are both 6 foot 8, joined Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson on KSPN-AM (710) in Los Angeles for an interview on Friday.

"It’s a very tough decision, especially leaving behind my coach and all the people who are behind the program that really helped me out this year," said Parker. "I really have to keep them in consideration. The whole process, it’s very mind-boggling."

Parker projects to be a top-three pick should he declare for the June 26 draft.

"It’s more than just next year," he said. "It’s going to be my career from there and how happy I’ll be in life."

Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 50.3% from the field in 35 games with the Blue Devils.

Duke, which was seeded third in the NCAA tournament, was upset in its first game of the tournament by 14th-seeded Mercer.

McDermott, who was named the Wooden Player of the Year, will automatically enter the draft pool as a senior.

"I know I’m probably in better position than I was last year, that’s something when I made my decision last year to come back, I probably didn’t think would happen," said McDermott. "I worked really hard this summer and had a great season and I think I put myself in a great spot."

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McDermott scored 17.9 points a game for the Bluejays, shooting 44.9% from three-point range and 56.7% from the field.

After a win over 14th-seeded Louisiana Lafayette, third-seeded Creighton fell by 30 points to sixth-seeded Baylor. McDermott projects to be a lottery pick (top 14) in June.

The Lakers (25-53) currently have the sixth-worst record in the league. The NBA draft lottery will be held on May 20 to determine the order of the top 14 picks.

"Me and Jabari, this is both of our first times here at the Staples Center. It was really cool seeing the Lakers’ floor," said McDermott. "A couple of guys posed in Jack Nicholson’s chair."

McDermott said he would love to be drafted by the Lakers.

"That’d be a dream come true. I grew up watching the Lakers obviously and it’s a great organization and [has] some of the best fans, if not the best fans, in the NBA," he said. "I would like that. It’s good weather, a lot better weather than I’m used to in the Midwest, so I would not be complaining."

Parker said he also liked the idea of playing for the Lakers.

"We come from the Midwest where our weather is kind of terrible, so being here would be a blessing," he said. "You don’t have any excuse not to work out at any time of day. It would be a very great opportunity"

Parker, who is of the Mormon faith, was asked if he had decided not to go on his two-year mission.

"I think I have, at this point," he said. "It’s either between returning or staying, and that’s all I want to take care of."

The choice Parker is making is technically between returning and leaving. Regardless, he said he’ll make his announcement early next week.

Parker downplayed possibly playing for the Jazz in Salt Lake City, with its Mormon community. He also denied a rumor that he had applied for second-year housing at Duke.

McDermott gave Parker a little advice on his decision.

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"We’re obviously in different situations," he said. "I wasn’t going to be a top-three pick last year, or this year."

"He’s a great kid and really values his education," McDermott said. "He has to go with his gut — what he feels better about.

A top-three pick in the draft will earn at least $4.4 million for their rookie season.

"My parents, they come from different backgrounds. They don’t even value money. My situation isn’t the best, but they’re not complaining," said Parker.  "I’ve been going on this long, so why can’t I wait another year? That’s what the mind-set [is] in my head that … keeps me moving."

Should Parker enter the fray, he would likely join the Kansas duo of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, both who have already declared, at the top of the draft.

— Eric Pincus