MACON, Ga. — Texas had Jonathan Holmes, a second-team All-Big 12 pick.
Oklahoma had Buddy Hield and Cameron Clark, second- and third-team selections in that same conference
Seton Hall had Fuquan Edwin, the Big Easts defensive player of the year and a second-team all-conference honoree.
Holmes stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 240 pounds, 4 inches and 20 pounds heavier than Hield. Edwin is 6-6, 215.
So Mercer battled some top-flight players at power-conference programs this season.
None of them can match Dukes Jabari Parker, whom the 14th-seeded Bears will try to slow during their NCAA tournament second-round game at 12:15 p.m. Friday at PNC Arena.
Hes a freak, Mercer senior forward Bud Thomas said of Parker, the 6-8, 235-pound national freshman of the year. Thats essentially the bottom line.
Thomas, Jake Gollon and Darious Moten will be the primary defenders on Parker.
Weve got a lot of different schemes were going to throw at him, a lot of different defenses that were going to throw at Duke in general, because hes obviously one of their best players, Gollon said. Theyve got a bunch of guys that are really good.
Weve got some different stuff were going to throw at them, but more than anything, weve just got to lock down and play good team defense. Weve always been a good defensive team.
Mercer has become more diverse on defense, playing more zone and using an occasional triangle-and-two and other hybrid schemes. The Bears also change defenses more during possessions.
Fridays plan is based on denying and helping.
More help than anything, Moten said. As far as the post goes, our post defense is always try to keep it out. As far as when he drives, were helping really hard to get the ball out of his hands.
When he drives, hes driving to either finish or get fouled.
Parker has 72 more free-throw attempts than any of his teammates.
Thomas said players like Parker present two primary problems.
If you pressure up on them, theyre going to go right by you, Thomas said. If you step off, theyll hit a 3 in your face.
Moten likens Parker to Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks.
Hes got the same build and everything and very similar game, Moten said. Hes probably the best player weve played against.
Thomas thought back to his freshman season when the Bears played Georgia Tech and 6-5, 215-pound Iman Shumpert. He had 15 points and seven rebounds in the Yellow Jackets 87-78 win on New Years Eve in 2010.
I remember just thinking how advanced he was, Thomas said. He was skying above our bigs and his own bigs for the rebound and pushing it in transition.
Parker averages 19.3 points and shoots 47.8 percent. He was held to single digits by only Notre Dame (seven in a 79-77 loss) and Virginia (eight in a 69-65 win) but shot worse than 40 percent in 11 games since the new year began.
Its definitely going to be a team effort on stopping him, Thomas said. Not too many teams in the nation have figured out how to do that yet.