The Duke Blue Devils may open the 2014-15 college basketball season as the no. 1 team, but they’ve missed out on a chance to really distance themselves from other contenders. That’s because star freshman forward Jabari Parker is no longer staying in school after he announced his intention to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.
Because he’s entering the draft, the top 3 picks now appear – for now at least – to be set. Kansas center Joel Embiid and forward Andrew Wiggins, along with Parker, are projected by nearly every draft analyst to be the first three picks of this year’s NBA Draft.
Parker has even been rumored to be in consideration for the top pick, which is probably a big reason why he ultimately decided to go pro after it appeared he was going to stay at Duke for one more year.
Here’s an excerpt of what he said today about leaving for the NBA:
I’ve been weighing this question for the past two years. After talking with my family, my local church leaders and a couple close friends I’m at peace with my decision to forego a mission for now and join the NBA. I don’t consider myself an exception to the rule. At this point in my life I know this is the right decision.
I want to follow in my father’s footsteps as a role model to youth, especially those kids who need the most help. My dad created the Sonny Parker Youth Foundation, which has helped countless boys — including me — develop into manhood and stay out of trouble.
I realize how much of a privilege and an honor it is to join the ranks of the NBA. I will do everything in my power to help deliver championships to the franchise that drafts me. At the same time, I recognize the obligation to represent the league in an admirable way off the court.
This affects the Kentucky Wildcats from a couple of standpoints. Freshman forward Julius Randle is ranked behind Parker in nearly every scouting service, and this likely pushes Randle down one spot in June’s draft.
This also ever so slightly increases the chances the Harrison twins, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress return to college. Had Parker stayed in college, those four would have had a better chance of sneaking into the end of the first round, which is the best scenario they can hope for.