It is often not the attacks that are seen coming that inflict the most damage, but the ones that come unexpectedly. Although such a case cannot be built for Duke Blue Devils freshman Jabari Parker after his stellar high school career and elite-level talent, he enters his first season playing under the lights of Cameron Indoor Stadium in the shadow of fellow freshman Andrew Wiggins of the Kansas Jayhawks, who has dominated prospective conversations for years.
Soon enough, the shadow of Wiggins currently hovering over him will cease to exist as the radiating light that is destined to stem from Parker and his exploits this season will wash away any notion that the two are anything but equals on the basketball court, as prospects and as future NBA superstars.
Unlike Wiggins, who is a tantalizing talent with a combination of spectacular athleticism, slashing ability and a solid jump shot, Parker enters his college freshman season as arguably the superior of the two from a pure talent standpoint. Although he does not possess the jaw-dropping athletic gifts of Wiggins, there is no question that Parker is lethal from more areas on the floor and has the more advantaged jump shooting ability at this stage of his career.
Whether it’s the mid-range turnaround, dribble drive capabilities, fundamentally sound post moves or a 3-point shot that already looks to become a point of emphasis for defenses to prevent, Parker is the real deal on the offensive end of the floor, the kind of player that can slowly pile on the points without the wildly outlandish athletic feats.
In Parker, Duke have the next in line of a rich tradition in future NBA players, possibly its greatest ever after the likes of Grant Hill.
At 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, Parker possesses the body of an NBA power forward while bringing the versatility that will undoubtedly draw comparisons towards Michael Beasley during his stint with the Kansas State Wildcats. Aside from his long-range jump shot, Parker brings a spectacular post game, great ball-handling and a keen eye for the right pass, talents that only begin to describe his versatility.
Although his lack of burst from an athletic standpoint will limit the amount he’ll be able to force his will upon opponents, points will come in bunches as Parker already has elite-level NBA scoring ability, something that very few players at the college level will consistently be able to stifle.
With the aid of Mike Krzyzewski, a coach who has handled decades of talented college players and also the best in the world as the head coach for the USA basketball program, Parker should further his influence as a leader both vocally and by sheer example.
One cannot underestimate the kind of fire that can be lit under a competitive soul when a rival has seemingly stolen their thunder. With Parker, such a spark will only aid the freshman in putting in extra time at the gym, looking for tutelage from coaches and veteran players alike, and slowly building the kind of package that can not only rival Wiggins’, but surpass it in the future.
Although Duke possesses a plethora of talented players on its roster, none come close to the talents that Parker can bring to their locker room. As such, he is the key to any success they hope to achieve in both the conference and come March. While Duke will undoubtedly always be among college basketball’s elite teams, they will need Parker to emerge into a star or else find a fate similar to so many years past where they lacked one.
The fortunes of the Blue Devils will rise only as high as the star of Parker does this season, something that he will undoubtedly strive to put high into the sky.