Jabari Parker says that there is a possibility he doesn’t enter this summer’s draft, per Joedy McCreary of The Associated Press (H/T Adam Zagoria). The freshman, long hyped as a potential number-one-overall draft pick, says his development will be key in his decision.
“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. “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.”
Speculation on Parker’s decision has churned all year, with NBA executives going back and forth on what they believe he will ultimately be in the draft. Most have maintained that they expect him to enter the draft, but a veteran NBA scout tells Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv that he’s “buying” the possibility of Parker returning to Duke for his sophomore season (Twitter link). If Parker were to remain in college for another year, it would have a huge effect on the both the 2014 and 2015 draft. In addition to shuffling around the upper tiers in both draft classes, Parker’s prolonged college tenure could alter the exposure and/or development of a 2015 Duke roster likely to feature a handful of draft prospects.
The 6’8″ small forward has been seen as perhaps the most polished player in the top tier of this year’s draft crop, and he began this season in a neck-and-neck projection alongside Andrew Wiggins for the first overall selection. He’s slotted fourth in Chad Ford’s latest Insider-only mock draft at ESPN, third in Jonathan Givony’s mock draft at Draft Express. Parker, who will turn 19 in a week, is averaging 18.8 PPG on .483 shooting, to go with 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 1.3 assists in 30.2 minutes per contest.