Duke freshman phenomenon Jabari Parker’s options are wide open at the end of this basketball season. The fact that he is LDS gives him even more options.
Parker’s No. 1 and most likely option is declaring for the NBA draft. He is a consensus top 5 pick in every mock draft. DraftExpress.com projects him to be picked No. 3 overall in the upcoming NBA draft.
According to NBAdraft.net, he would be the No. 2 overall pick in 2014.
“Ultra-skilled forward with an innate, natural ability to play basketball … Remarkably advanced basketball IQ for a player his age,” wrote Tyler Ingle of NBAdraft.com. “He displays a rare versatility and polish for a player as young as he is along with the potential to get a lot better with time.”
Another option Parker has is to stay at Duke for his sophomore season. It might seem a little bit ridiculous for Parker to forego the instant millions of dollars he will automatically make in the NBA, but he has some incentive to stay.
Parker’s good friend from Chicago Jahlil Okafor recently committed to play at Duke next season. Okafor is no slouch either — he is the No. 1 prospect out of high school in 2014, according to ESPN. He and Parker together could lead Duke back to winning a national championship, a feat Parker probably won’t accomplish this season.
“Okafor and Parker have described themselves as brothers,” wrote Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation. “Their relationship has been building since before the two even selected where they were going to play in high school, let alone college.”
Parker’s most unlikely, but still worthy, option is to put off basketball for two years and serve an LDS mission. He had the option to serve even before he committed to Duke, but the option is still available to him.
And according to Chad Ford, an ESPN and Mormon analyst, Parker’s draft stock wouldn’t be diminished by a mission.
“I’m told a Mormon mission still isn’t out of the question for him,” wrote Ford. “I asked several GMs about what would happen to his draft stock if he declared for the draft and then said he was going on a two-year mission. I was surprised how many of them said they’d still consider him with the No. 1 pick.”
Parker is in a position that very few Mormon athletes have ever been in. Whatever he chooses to do, he can be a missionary and ambassador for the Church.