Jabari Parker vs. Andrew Wiggins? No, it's Duke vs. Kansas

lkeeley@newsobserver.comNovember 11, 2013 

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    No. 4 Duke vs. No. 5 Kansas

    When: 10 p.m.

    Where: United Center, Chicago

    TV/Radio: ESPN, WKIX-102.9 FM

    Projected starting lineups:

    Duke (1-0)

    G Quinn Cook, Jr., 21 ppg, 8 apg

    G Tyler Thornton, Sr., 6 ppg, 2 apg

    F Rodney Hood, R-So., 22 ppg, 9 rpg

    F Jabari Parker, Fr., 22 ppg, 6 rpg

    F Amile Jefferson, So., 10 ppg, 0 rpg

    Kansas (1-0)

    G Naadir Tharpe, Jr., (season debut)

    G Wayne Selden Jr., Fr., 8 ppg, 4 apg

    G Andrew Wiggins, Fr., 16 ppg, 3 rpg

    F Perry Ellis, So., 12 ppg, 8 rpg

    F Tarik Black, Sr., 8 ppg, 7 rpg

    Player to watch

    Andrew Wiggins, G, Kansas

    You may have heard of him. The No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 is a long, skilled, athletic wing who is a candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. He’s listed as a guard but projects as a small forward at the next level, can shoot the 3 and drive to the basket. Expect Rodney Hood to guard him.

    Observations

    In the 111-77 win against Davidson, the Blue Devils, for the first time in their long, storied history, had four players finish with more than 20 points: Parker (22), Hood (22), Cook (21) and Rasheed Sulaimon (20).

    Parker was one point shy of tying Shavlik Randolph’s record of points for a freshman in a season opener (23 against Army on Nov. 23, 2002).

    While Sulaimon’s point total draws the most attention, he also tied his career-high with seven rebounds in the Davidson win. That’s the kind of effort that will get him back in the starting lineup.

— The questions started on Day One.

Sitting by his locker after Duke’s first official preseason practice, Jabari Parker fielded a wide range a questions before the talk inevitably turned to Duke vs. Kansas.

On that September day, the matchup was more than six weeks away. Now it’s here, as the No.4 Blue Devils (1-0) will tip off in Chicago against the No.5 Jayhawks (1-0) at 10 p.m. (ESPN) Tuesday in the Champions Classic.

“It’ll be exciting to play Kansas,” Parker said when asked about playing against Andrew Wiggins. “Playing the alma mater of Wilt Chamberlain and the greats. That’s like us when Grant Hill was here. I want to play Kansas. We want to beat Kansas, Duke vs. Kansas.”

That’s typical Parker style, according to his high school coach, Chicago Simeon’s Robert Smith. Parker, the No.1 recruit in the Class of 2013 until he was sidelined with a foot injury at the same time Wiggins reclassified, was all about the team in high school, and that’s the way he has acted at Duke.

“I know how everyone is making it,” Smith said. “It’s not going to be Jabari vs. Wiggins. It’s going to be Duke vs. Kansas for him.”

If the focus is turned to individual matchups, it’s Rodney Hood, not Parker, who is expected to be the primary defender on 6-foot-8, 200-pound Wiggins. Parker likely will match up on sophomore forward Perry Ellis, who, like Wiggins, Parker and Hood, stands 6-8.

To simplify Kansas down to Wiggins would be a gross mischaracterization, just like singlingout Parker isn’t a fair breakdown of Duke.

The Jayhawks are loaded with future NBA talent, and the best future pro might not even be in their starting lineup. Freshman center Joel Embiid, a 7-footer from Cameroon, is beginning just his third year of organized basketball.

With Embiid, 6-9 forward Tarik Black (who chose Kansas over Duke for his final year of eligibility), Ellis, Wiggins at the small foward along with 6-5 guard Wayne Selden Jr., Kansas is “huge,” to use Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s descriptor.

That will challenge the Blue Devils, who lack a true post presence.

“It’s a big game for us as a team,” senior captain Tyler Thornton said. “We’ve got to stick together. We can’t worry about one-on-one things, worry about the media.”

Krzyzewski, though, has talked with Parker about the challenges of returning home for a high-profile game.

“Tickets, friends calling, stuff like that, it’s amazing preparation for postseason on Nov.12,” said Krzyzewski, who also hails from Chicago. “People are going to call you, you have new friends, you have old friends, you have cousins, so how do you handle all that? We’ll talk to him, and he needs to let us know how we can help in that regard.”

Parker passed his first collegiate test with flying colors, scoring 22 points in 23 minutes against Davidson, shooting eight of 10 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range. He also added six rebounds, two assists and a block (against one turnover) and was named the ACC Rookie of the Week.

Defensively, he spent time on the Wildcats’ big man, De’Mon Brooks, and guard Chris Czerapowicz. That’s the type of defensive versatility Krzyzewski wants to see.

The Blue Devils will switch as part of their man-to-man defense, so it’s likely Parker will find himself on Wiggins at least momentarily. The two aren’t friends, Parker said, but they will say hi when they see each other. To Parker, it’s just two more players in a long line of greats at Duke and Kansas.

“I don’t hate the guy,” Parker said. “I think y’all just want to make it a frenzy, build a story.”

Keeley: 919-829-4556; Twitter: @laurakeeley

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