There are a lot of ways to describe Duke’s super-freshman Jabari Parker, but perhaps no description is more eye-catching than the one Sports Illustrated went with when he was still a high school prospect:
Jabari, 17, is not just the best high school player in the state. He's the best high school player since LeBron James.
No pressure or anything.
That same Sports Illustrated profile describes Parker as being very humble, both on and off the court. Frankly speaking, that can’t be easy for a teenager who has been compared to one of the best basketball players in the history of the game, but that humble personality is one of the reasons he won’t lead Duke in scoring as a freshman.
The Chicago native follows a long line of Windy City talent and even went to the same high school as Derrick Rose. Expectations have been sky-high for Parker for years, although some of the spotlight shifted to fellow freshman Andrew Wiggins this past summer.
One thing about choosing Duke as your basketball program of choice, though, is the realization that the spotlight will always shine on the Blue Devils. Parker is one of the primary reasons why Coach K’s squad is ranked No. 4 in the nation in the initial USA Today Coaches Poll and will be featured in plenty of prime-time and televised showdowns in 2013-14.
Good luck finding a season-preview article about Duke that doesn’t prominently feature Parker and a description of all his talents.
Many are assuming that Parker will lead the Blue Devils in points per game and battle Wiggins for National Player of the Year accolades. After all, Parker’s offensive arsenal is extensive, as he can score from the post, attack the rim, finish through contact and hit from mid-range with regularity.
He is a scoring machine and certainly has the potential to challenge for the ACC’s leading point man if he plays to his potential. But he won’t even lead the Blue Devils in scoring, let alone the conference.
That’s not a negative comment on Parker’s game or a knock on how he will play as a freshman. He will be one of the best players in the ACC, but one of his many talented teammates will benefit from the extra defensive attention Parker draws all year and lead Duke in points per night.
Remember, Parker has been described as a humble player since his days as a young high school prospect. If there are double-teams heading his way, Parker will make the correct play to help his team win. The fact that he is a talented passer, especially for his size and status as a scoring small forward, will only help the other Blue Devils outpace him in the scoring department.
Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon are both potential scoring machines if opposing defenders focus too much on Parker. Both can hit the three, attack the rim and finish through contact and will find themselves with open looks all season long.
Parker will be the best player on the Blue Devils’ roster, but his willingness to make the right play, unselfish nature and opposing game plans will mean somebody else will lead Duke in scoring this year.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.
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