Jabari Parker Decision: Now Coach K, Duke Have No Excuses
When a player like Parker heads to a place like Duke, people don't ask "if" they will win a title, they think about "how many."
And, if you put any confidence in what the mega-recruit from Chicago said today about possibly playing college hoops for two or three years, you could even dream about him doing what Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill or Shane Battier never did: Three-peat.
Truthfully, when the Legend goes to play for the Legend, he puts the Blue Devils in a place where, in most people's minds, they have no justifications, no explanations, no excuses for not winning at least one championship during Parker's year(s) in Durham.
Not that Coach K is given much to alibis. When Duke gets beat, he is good about giving the other team credit.
The Blue Devils margin for error is now officially zero. It's a good thing for Duke that they're going to be loaded and deep.
Because of Parker's versatility, he can set up shop just about anywhere this side of half-court. He can knock down three's, beat defenders off the dribble and get to the rim, or post up on the block.
He has the size to play the 4 and has the ball-handling and shooting skills to lineup at the 3.
Parker's partner at the forward position will most likely be Mississippi State-transfer Rodney Hood, who averaged 10.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 2 assists last year in Starkville. Hood can score in bunches and break another team's will with his shot-making.
These two long, athletic forwards could play interchangeably and will most certainly be match up nightmares.
Coming off the bench, Amile Jefferson is beginning to emerge as an athletic combo forward. Alex Murphy is a dead-eye shooter from beyond the arc.
Two of this year's outstanding, starting perimeter players will most likely return for the 2013-14 season:
- PG Quinn Cook is having a breakout year, averaging 10.4 ppg, 6.3 apg and 3.5 rpg. Cook's 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio shows that he can deliver the ball to Duke's scorers and handle the pressure of running the Blue Devils' show.
- Freshman SG Rasheed Sulaimon is the real deal (12.7 ppg; 3.6 rpg; 2.7 apg), able to get to the rim or knock down jumpers from all over the court.
Tyler Thornton will again bring his blue-collar work ethic and team-first mindset. Matt Jones, an incoming 4-Star SG could see immediate action.
The biggest question mark in the rotation is red-shirt freshman Marshall Plumlee. He sat out the first several games this year and only played a grand total of 2 minutes before spraining his ankle in the Cornell game. If he can ever get healthy, the 6'11" post is mobile and athletic, and can provide some good work on the boards and in clogging the lane.
Very few teams, with the exception of Kentucky, will have the talent that Duke does next year. Barring injury or some other unforeseen factor, the Blue Devils will be dominant and should roll through most of their pre-conference games and ACC schedule.
There is no reason to believe that Jabari Parker and his teammates will not make a very deep run in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
And if the Blue Devils don't make it to the Final Four in Dallas, they will have no excuses.
They have Jabari.
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