Parker joining winning ways in Durham
December 21, 2012, 1:07 pm
Most years the No. 3 ranked player in a recruiting class choosing to attend Duke would be a simple case of “the rich getting richer.” In 2013, that will be the case and then some after Simeon star Jabari Parker pledged his commitment to Mike Krzyzewski the Blue Devils yesterday afternoon.
After a National Championship in 2009-‘10, Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010-’11 and were stunned last season in one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, a second-round loss to fifteenth-seeded Lehigh, 75-70. But Krzyzewski’s last two recruiting classes, capped off by Parker’s announcement, have proved that the lasting impression recruits see is the Hall of Famer’s ability to win rather than the recent bumps in the road.
Joining Parker, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 3 player in the 2013 class, in Durham next fall are four-star shooting guard Matt Jones and four-star small forward Semi Ojeleye. The consensus top-40 recruits make up what is likely the second best class in the country, behind Kentucky’s unprecedented 2013 class of four players ranked in the top-20, including three in the top-10.
The 2013 class – which could challenge Duke’s 2009 class (Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins) and 2011 class (Quinn Cook, Austin Rivers, Marshall Plumlee)as Coach K’s best in recent memory – should form the backbone for Krzyzewski’s foreseeable future, but they won’t be alone.
It was only fitting that, on the week of Parker’s commitment, the Blue Devils moved to No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Polls. After previously-ranked No. 1 Indiana fell in overtime to Butler, the Blue Devils (9-0) received 62 of 65 first-place votes in the AP Top 25. Led by Mason Plumlee, who at this point looks to be the frontrunner for Player of the Year, Duke has already topped No. 3 Kentucky, VCU, No. 2 Louisville and No. 4 Ohio State in its non-conference slate.
So while the Blue Devils appear to be on their way to their 23rd ACC regular season championship and 18th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the outlook for Parker is to the future.
He noted in his 1-on-1 with CSNChicago.com that the ability to play right away, based on what Duke was losing after this current season, was one of the main reasons for his decision.
Seniors forwards Ryan Kelly and Plumlee, and shooting guard Seth Curry will depart before Parker arrives, opening up three spots in the starting lineup. It’s almost a certainty the Simeon star will fill Kelly’s starting role as a face-up forward, with plenty of athleticism and ability to get to the basket to boot.
The aforementioned seniors do make up three of Duke’s top four leading scorers, but Krzyzewski’s roster will allow the 65-year-old to reload instead of having to rebuild.
2012 McDonald’s All-American Amile Jefferson has averaged less than 10 minutes per game behind Plumlee, but likely will enter the starting lineup as a more polished sophomore alongside Parker.
Point guard Quinn Cook, currently a sophomore, will give Krzyzewski an upperclassman leading the offense and 6-foot-4 shooting guard Rasheed Sulamoin – a freshman connecting on better than 40 percent of his 3-pointers – means the Blue Devils could have as many as four McDonald’s All-Americans in the lineup next year. If 2013 recruit Jones beats out will-be senior Tyler Thornton at small forward, there’s a chance all five will have All-American status. Depth, as always, will be plentiful on the Blue Devils' bench.
There’s no telling how long Parker will remain at Duke. He may be a one-and-done freshman phenom in the same mold as Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant or his fellow Simeon star Derrick Rose.
But as it stands, Parker picked the best spot for him to both see immediate playing time and win on a talented roster. He said his decision was not just about basketball, but that the "business" attitude on campus is one he can see himself succeeding in. His attitude and knack for winning help that cause, but he'll have plenty of reinforcement around him in Durham in case he needs it.
Tags: michigan state
, Mike Krzyzewski
, Jabari Parker
, coach k