Top recruit Jabari Parker chooses Duke

lkeeley@newsobserver.comDecember 21, 2012 

Jabari Parkers Decision Basketball

Chicago's Simeon Career Academy's Jabari Parker announces he will be attending Duke during a news conference at his high school Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHARLES REX ARBOGAST — AP

  • Looking ahead Jabari Parker will give Duke another athletic wing player next season: PG: Quinn Cook6-1 SG: Rasheed Sulaimon6-4 SF: Jabari Parker6-8 SF: Rodney Hood6-8 PF: Marshall Plumlee6-11

Jabari Parker is coming to Duke.

The No. 2 recruit of the class of 2013 ended months of speculation when he announced Thursday he will sign the Blue Devils. Parker made his decision live from his Chicago high school, Simeon Career Academy, on ESPNU.

“In the fall of 2013, I will be attending ...” Parker said, as he attempted to pull a T-shirt out of a black bag, “I will be attending Duke University.”

Parker cited Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski as the reason for his decision.

“He has played a key role in my development throughout high school, just telling me basic things and what I need to do,” Parker said. “I just felt comfortable.”

Parker, a 6-foot-8 small forward, chose Duke over Michigan State, Florida, Stanford and BYU. The Spartans’ Tom Izzo pursued Parker aggressively and had the final in-home visit with him Wednesday night while Duke played Cornell. Krzyzewski most recently sat down with Parker on Tuesday. Parker has been Duke’s top target in this class since the conclusion of his freshman year.

After Parker’s announcement, ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep moved the Blue Devils’ class to No. 4 in the national recruiting rankings, making it the top class in the ACC. Before Parker’s choice, Duke had been No. 15.

“He’s going to come in and be able to shoulder the scoring load, be able to be a facilitator, but, I think most importantly, because of his attitude, his approach and who he is, you won’t see the jealousy from the upperclassmen with this kid,” Telep said. “He’s a unifying basketball player, and that’s a special trait to have in an elite talent.”

Parker’s commitment was a major win for Krzyzewski, who has had success landing his top recruiting targets in recent years. Kyrie Irving was the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2010 and Austin Rivers was also ranked third by ESPN in the class of 2011. Both were in Durham for one year before becoming NBA first-round draft picks.

Izzo, Krzyzewski and BYU’s Dave Rose were in Texas last week to watch Parker play. Parker, inactive for most of the summer and fall after breaking his foot, struggled to find any offensive rhythm and finished with just five points as No. 1-ranked Simeon lost. But a healthy Parker has drawn comparisons to LeBron James, and a Sports Illustrated cover in May touted Parker as the best high school player since the one they call the chosen one.

As a junior, Parker was named the national Gatorade Player of the Year and Illinois’ Mr. Basketball, averaging 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals per game for Simeon Career Academy.

Parker is the third member of Duke’s 2012 recruiting class, joining top-50 recruits Matt Jones and Semi Ojeleye.

Parker, Jones and Ojeleye will join a backcourt full of talent. Starters Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook will return from this year’s team, and Rodney Hood will be eligible to play after sitting out this year as a transfer from Mississippi State.

“They have a roster returning without Parker that could get them to a Final Four,” ESPN recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi said. “But Jabari Parker is the missing piece to winning a national championship for Duke.”

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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