College Basketball Recruiting: 3 Reasons Teams Should Be Wary of Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker is the top college basketball recruit in the nation, but that's not to say schools don't have a few things to be wary of with him.
I can understand how that could be a little hard to believe.
After all, Sports Illustrated already proclaimed the 17-year-old the best high school player since LeBron James.
Lofty praise, but he has the skills to match the hype.
Parker features an amazingly polished game for someone so young and always seems to make the correct basketball play.
Not only that, he has the personality to match his skills. He's very intelligent on and off the court and his Mormon beliefs have a heavy impact on his life and character.
Recently, Parker narrowed down his list of schools to 10.
Whichever of these programs lands Parker will get an instant star. He's the type of impact player that can change the direction of a school or put a team back onto the map.
However, despite being what seems to be the total package, there are still a few flaws in his game and situation that teams should be wary of.
He Will Be a One-and-Done Player
Six years ago a freshmen had never won a Player of the Year award in college basketball.
Now, two freshmen have won the award in the past six seasons—Kevin Durant in 2007 and Anthony Davis this past year.
However, the impact of freshmen is seen even more heavily at the top of the NBA draft.
Ever since the NBA raised the age limit to 19 in the reworked 2005 collective bargaining agreement, five of the last eight No. 1 overall picks have been freshmen, including five of the last six.
Top prospects play their year in college and then move onto the draft and rarely does a player buck that trend.
Talented as Parker is, he certainly won't be one of them. He would be leaving too much money on the table and risking injury if he was to stay.
He insists that he could stay an extra season if he doesn't do well, but for a player with an NBA-ready game and body like Parker, sticking around for his sophomore campaign would just hold him back.
With that being said, teams need to be wary of receiving what is essentially a rental player.
He'll be there for one season, excite the fan base, put up 20 points a game and most likely help pile up some wins.
But then, just like that, he'll be gone.
That's not to say one-and-done guys are bad.
Actually, Kentucky proved that it's possible for a young group of players to win right away this past season.
However, that's not the usual path.
Normally a superstar recruit like Durant or John Wall makes a splash and wins a few awards, but then they're gone.
Parker will be a benefit to any program he lands with, but he will only be there to do it for a year.
And unless he's surrounded by a group of future first-round picks like Davis, he won't do more than set a few school single-season records.
All of the Pressure Will Be on Him
When you get compared to the best player on the planet, LeBron James, it is a great compliment.
However, Parker is only 17 years old and that label is a lot of pressure to lay on someone who hasn't even completed high school yet.
Most high school players are just worried about their playing time, or in the case of potential college recruits, concerned with impressing the scouts in the stands.
Not Parker though.
When he earned the cover spot in Sports Illustrated, he also ensured the entire nation will be watching his every step. People will compare his numbers, performances and decisions to the greats of the past.
The first time he has an off-game, the whispers will be heard, "what's wrong with Jabari?" When his team goes on a losing streak, analysts all over the country will dissect his every mistake.
Simply put, he will be the most scrutinized player in the land.
That's tough on Parker and could very well affect his performance. Just ask players like Grant Hill and Vince Carter how the comparisons to Michael Jordan went for them.
However, it's not just Parker that the constant attention will have an effect on. It will rub off on his college teammates too.
They will always be asked about Parker.
What he's like as a person? How good of a teammate is he? Probably even, what’s his favorite breakfast cereal?
These kinds of questions aren’t tough to deal with when a team is winning, nothing really ever is. But, if his college team ever starts to struggle, the attention from the media will be rough.
They will be hounded about their performances and the squad will never have the chance to just go out there and work through things.
Parker is one of the most gifted players to ever grace a high school court, but even the best have off-days and weeks.
It will be times like these when Parker could be a detriment to whatever college team he ends up on.
He Still Has a Few Holes in His Game
Parker is one of the most gifted high school players in his generation, but the Chicago native isn't a Hall of Famer yet.
He may have a beautiful shooting stroke, impressive low-post skills and a highly-developed basketball IQ, but there are still a few flaws in his game.
Unlike most players who have been hyped to this level, Parker isn't terribly explosive.
He creates his own shot with intelligence, superior size and great ball-handling skills for someone with his 6'8" frame. However, he doesn't often get to the basket off the dribble and when he does, it’s by bulling his way through instead of attacking with an easy grace.
He's actually quite similar to Harrison Barnes from North Carolina in that sense. Barnes was a prolific scorer in Chapel Hill, but he struggled to create space off the dribble.
That same thing could hinder Parker on the college level.
Athletes in high school can't compete with his NBA-ready body, but in college the players will only get bigger and stronger.
Another flaw of Parker's is his lack of lateral quickness on the defensive end. This was evident when he was forced to guard quicker wings in high school.
In college though, this might not be as big of an issue. He will go up against players more evenly matched to his size at the 3.
It may be nitpicking, but those two areas are his biggest weakness heading into college.
Still, those deficiencies won't hinder his game all that much. He will be a major asset to whichever team manages to land him.
That school just needs to realize they’re receiving an 18-year-old kid, not an NBA MVP candidate.
Parker will be there one day, but he still has a ways to go.
Side Note—His Potential Mormon Mission Is Not a Reason to Be Wary
Parker's Mormon faith has been well-documented. As has his upcoming decision of whether or not to go on a Mormon mission when he reaches 19, something that is highly encouraged for young men of his faith.
If he does so, it means he’ll forgo his basketball career for two seasons.
First of all, that decision is entirely his business, one way or the other.
If he feels strongly enough to go on a mission, that's great. It would be refreshing to see a young athlete take a moral stand.
If he doesn't, that's fine too. He can still do a lot of good as an NBA star, by working with charities and spreading his faith to a national audience.
However, with all of that being said, his potential mission has no bearing on his college career.
He doesn't have to decide until he turns 19, which will be after his freshman season on campus.
Sure, there is the possibility that he returns for another campaign, but it's not likely. He'd be leaving too much on the table by passing on the NBA.
So, fans that are fretting that Parker could choose to go spiritual journey instead of suiting up for their program, relax, it won't happen.
And if you really are worried about Parker's decision, just stop. He's a high-character young man and needs to be left to his own devices in order to make his choice.
He will reach the NBA one way or another; just let him decide how he'll get there.