Duke Basketball: Will Jabari Parker Make Duke Fans Forget About Departed Seniors

Chad LykinsFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2013

Apr. 5, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Simeon Career Academy varsity basketball team member Jabari Parker poses on an outdoor court near the school on the south side of Chicago. Parker, a 6 foot 8 inch senior, has verbally committed to attending Duke University in the fall. Mandatory Credit: Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The days of witnessing the sweet shooting stroke of Seth Curry, the inside-out play of Ryan Kelly and an influx of rim-rattling slam dunks from Mason Plumlee in a Duke basketball uniform have come to a close.

Three players. 

Three seniors.

Three leaders.


If we were to look ahead to the 2013-14 college basketball season with those seniors departed and without examining the Blue Devils' incoming recruiting class, the loss of three exceptional players in the illustrious history of the Duke program would be too significant to overcome.

Now include the three-man recruiting class into the equation, headlined by the immensely talented Jabari Parker.

And suddenly all is well in Durham.

Parker has long been characterized as a potential program-changing talent at the college level. Possessing a rare blend of size, skill, intelligence and deceptive athleticism, the Chicago native will enter his freshman season at Duke with an abundance of expectations to live up to.

Among them, none is more paramount than filling the void left behind by Curry, Kelly and Plumlee. 

It cannot be expressed enough that the leadership qualities the graduating seniors provided this season will be missed the most.

Seth Curry, despite a nagging right shin injury, played in 35 of Duke's 36 games this season while leading the team in scoring. After nursing an injured right foot for 13 games, Ryan Kelly led the Blue Devils to one of their best victories of the season in his first game back. Mason Plumlee led by example and transformed his overall game, and was recognized as one of the best big men in the country.

In Parker, who intends to sign his letter of intent with Duke, he has been instilled with the mentality to lead throughout the majority of his playing career.

It's what makes him special. 

With four consecutive Illinois state championships to his credit, Parker's young success will be most impactful for Duke next season.

But, how far can he lead the Blue Devils? 

An ACC championship? A spot in the 2014 Final Four? A fifth national championship? 

The possibilities are endless.

While his stay in Durham could be short lived, delivering the Cameron Crazies with a national title would leave a memorable lasting impression.

Of course, he is just one man. 

Expecting the 6'8", 241-pound small forward to replace the contributions of three players is unimaginable. 

Then again, is it really?

Not if you ask the man himself.