When Duke and Syracuse met on Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium the stakes were extremely high, as the two sides are fighting for ACC supremacy and to gain a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But the one fight that was most intriguing of all was the battle between freshman Jabari Parker and Tyler Ennis, the two freshman who are in the running for the Wooden Award. Both of them are also the reason why their teams are in the running to be the best side in the nation.
After Duke capped off a tight 66-60 victory, there was still little that separated the two teams as a whole, but it was certainly clear that Parker took a giant step ahead of Ennis in the fight for the Wooden Award. There was no question that Parker was the best player on the court for the entire night, and his 19 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one block was indicative of the dominant force he was.
The 6-foot-8, 235 pound forward was an absolute behemoth with the ball in his hands, as he attacked the rim with a vengeance and made it impossible for defenders to keep him from creating shots. In the rare occasion that the lane was closed, Parker was also able to land open shots from the floor, as he went 3-3 from three point range, and 6-9 from the field in total. In total, there was really no stopping the freshman on offense as he mixed determination, brute force, speed and finishing ability in a manner that hasn’t been seen in college basketball in quite a few years.
And while there is very little surprise that Parker was a force on the offensive end of the court, his ability to compete and dominate on the defensive zone was even more impressive. The forward showed incredible compete in the defensive zone, and he played a key role in the lane as Syracuse struggled to get going at all offensively. For the whole of the night the Orange shot just 22.2 percent from three- point range and 38.7 percent from the field, and it is crystal clear that the biggest reason for this was how dominant Parker was.
This game built upon a season that is already really good thus far, as Parker has averaged 19.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 1.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game. The freshman has also turned things up of late, as he now has a double-double in four out of Duke’s last five games, and he has scored 15 points or more in each of their last eight games. What all of these numbers show is a guy that is a dominant force in one of the best leagues in the country, and he is doing it as a freshman.
Above and beyond just pure statistics, there is simply no player that has been anywhere near the level of play that Parker has displayed for the entirety of the 2013-14 season. The freshman forward is the whole package, combining dominant strength, great shooting ability, and enough positional awareness to be a dominant force on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ball. Some players may end up looking better on paper at the end of the season, but there is no doubting that Jabari Parker should win the Wooden Award as the best player in college basketball this year.