The top-rated high school recruits typically go through about the same process. First it's the McDonald's All-American Game, then one year at the collegiate level, and then they finally become lottery selections regardless of their success or failure.
Jabari Parker could be an exception.
The superstar from Simeon Career Academy has received scholarships from Duke, DePaul, Connecticut, Kentucky, Kansas, and more. He is indisputably the most talented high school basketball prospect in the Class of 2013. However, what is in question is whether Jabari Parker will pursue his basketball talents in the NBA after college.
Many are aware that Parker is Mormon and takes pride in his religion. The controversy is that his religion expects him at 19 to leave his home for two years and dedicate his life to missionary service. This is life-altering for Parker and eventually a big decision must be made.
Even though it's important to be sympathetic to Parker's dilemma, the better decision for him will be to play in the NBA.
First, if Parker decides to go on his mission, scouts could potentially lose interest and question his commitment even if Parker were later to return to basketball. Something similar was attempted by former pro, Shawn Bradley. The 7'6" center left college early to pursue his Mormon mission and then failed to put up the numbers experts expected from the No. 2 selection in the 1993 NBA draft.
It has been said that Parker loves the game of basketball, but he could potentially be out of shape if he takes two years off from competitive-level play. Simply put, going on the mission could eliminate his chance to step on the court at all in the NBA.
Second, when Parker sees the riches he could obtain simply from being a top-five selection, it will be difficult to turn such a large sum of money down. Last year the first pick, Kyrie Irving, received about $4.3 million for being the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft. Let's be honest: when you're 19 and you have the opportunity to make literally millions, you simply do not want to turn that down. Your dreams of buying your mother a new house and a BMW for your homie will be racing through your mind. To turn down that much money would be foolish.
Third, he's better than an average recruit. He's the top small-foward prospect since LeBron James. He has the opportunity to be an all-star in the NBA. If this was a scenario in which he was a mid-major prospect with no intention of going professional, then the prospect of taking these two years off would be understandable. However, he has the opportunity to be a dominant all-around player and a cornerstone to an NBA franchise.
Jabari Parker in my eyes is the most dominant high school basketball player in years. Of course, he should follow his beliefs, but not to the extent that he will risk his potential to be an NBA great.