Report: Jabari Parker Signs with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports for Representation

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 3, 2014

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Former Duke freshman phenom and current drool-worthy draft prospect Jabari Parker has made the first decision of what should be a memorable NBA career.

The 19-year-old has settled on an agent, tabbing Klutch Sports' Rich Paul as the right man for the job, according to Fox Sports' Bill Reiter:

If the name sounds familiar to hoop heads, it should. Paul's a longtime friend and agent of one LeBron James, the four-time MVP and two-time champion.

According to HoopsHype.com, Paul's NBA clientele also includes Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, Washington Wizards big man Kevin Seraphin and San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph.

Parker's one-year stay in Durham saw him tally 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds while flashing a number of intriguing NBA-ready skills. A scoring threat from anywhere on the floor, he received the Wayman Tisdale Award in March, an honor given to the nation's top freshman as seen by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

He's expected to come off the draft board early in the first round. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman has him slotted as the No. 3 pick of his most recent mock draft.

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If Parker's affiliation with Paul includes an association with James, that may be as close as the two basketball heavyweights can get. James' Miami Heat hold the 26th spot in the first round of June's talent grab.

Despite the lofty draft status, Parker said his decision to leave Duke wasn't easy. He explained his rationale for making the move in a piece he co-wrote with Sports Illustrated's Jeff Benedict:

Which environment -- college or the NBA -- offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player?

Which environment -- college or the NBA -- offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court?

The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA.

There is something else. My father, Sonny, played in the NBA. I know firsthand that the career span of a pro basketball player is finite. The lucky ones play until their mid-30s. With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college. It's ironic, but true.

By tossing his name into the NBA hat, Parker gave himself a shot to stretch out his playing career as long as possible. By aligning himself with someone like Paul, he ensured the chance to expand his portfolio off the floor as well.

Leaving the guidance of a legendary coach like Duke's Mike Krzyzewski behind couldn't have been painless, but the young man appears to be in good hands now.

Paul has assisted James' ascent into icon status. If Parker's NBA transition goes as smoothly as some believe it will, off-court opportunities could be coming his way by the busload.

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