This could be it for Jabari Parker at Duke. His final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium could come Saturday night when No. 4 Duke hosts rival North Carolina — if the freshman phenom jumps to the NBA after the season, as most outsiders always assumed he would do.
The Associated Press
DURHAM, N.C. — This could be it for Jabari Parker at Duke.
His final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium could come Saturday night when No. 4 Duke hosts rival North Carolina — if the freshman phenom jumps to the NBA after the season, as most outsiders always assumed he would do.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Parker insists he still hasn't made up his mind.
"If I feel like there are things I could improve on or things I left, like during the season, then I will probably come back," Parker said.
"Saying that I didn't give it my all and that I have regrets, that I have to come back because I owe this program so much," he added. "A deciding factor is where I'm going to grow the most, whether it's in the NBA or even in college, the learning experiences that I need as far as (growing as) a basketball player."
The Wooden Award finalist has been the most consistent player for Duke (23-7, 12-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).
He's the ACC's top rebounder, its No. 2 scorer and the highest-scoring freshman in school history with averages of 18.8 points and nine rebounds.
He could become the first Duke freshman to lead the team in scoring and rebounds.
"He's been a willing learner, and he's accepted coaching extremely well," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "And so he's worked in concert with his coaching staff to become better. For any kid, that's the key to success. For a lot of guys who are really talented, they never learn that, and he has that."
Duke senior Tyler Thornton was part of the same 2010 recruiting class as NBA All-Star game MVP Kyrie Irving of Cleveland and as a sophomore shared the backcourt with Austin Rivers, now with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Those two one-and-dones have plenty in common with Parker, he says.
"They have a natural feel for the game that the average player doesn't have," Thornton said. "Their instincts and the things that they're able to do pretty much aren't things that you're able to work on during drills or just during the summertime. ... Their willingness to learn and just be great teammates and all those things come together, and it shows on the court. They've been able to be spectacular as well as be within the team."
That's been one of Parker's challenges: balancing his position as the most visible player at a program that's always one of the nation's most polarizing, and his desire to fit into the team.
"He's pretty much our best player so everything he does is magnified," Thornton said. "But in the locker room, in practice, within our team, he just wants to be one of the guys."
Of course, not everyone received scholarship offers as a sixth grader, or appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated while in high school.
"I really wasn't a guy that idolizes fame and self-glorification," Parker said. "Really, what drives me is the team goal and my responsibility (to teammates), so I guess being grounded really helps me, and the friendships that I have with these guys on the team kind of blinds a lot of things that come my way."
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