Simeon (Chicago) forward Jabari Parker, whom Sports Illustrated dubbed “the best high school basketball player since LeBron James,” announced Thursday that he will attend Duke.
During a press conference at Simeon, which was broadcast on ESPNU, the 6-foot-8 Parker appeared nervous before putting an end to the suspense by pulling a blue Duke basketball shirt from a bag.
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“In the fall of 2013, I will be attending Duke University,” Parker said. “I just chose Duke because it was the perfect fit for me. Coach Krzyzewski has played a key hand in my development, even in high school, telling me basic things I needed to do. I just felt comfortable.”
Parker, a senior who was named to the 2011 American Family Insurance ALL-USA team and this year's preseason team, picked the Blue Devils over Michigan State, Florida, BYU and Stanford, ending one of the most highly publicized recruitments in recent memory. While his commitment to Duke is expected to be final, Parker can’t sign a national letter of intent until April.
Duke and Michigan State were considered the favorites to land Parker, who is rated the No. 2 class of 2013 recruit in the ESPN 100. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo visited with Parker and his family on Wednesday.
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Parker told reporters that his main reason for not choosing the Spartans was the presence of sophomore forward Branden Dawson.
“I don’t want to mess up his thing,” Parker said. “Me coming in there would be kind of disrespectful. I just want him to do well.”
Izzo’s loss is Duke’s gain. Krzyzewski watched Parker play against Blue Devils commit Matt Jones and DeSoto (Texas) on Dec. 13, and ESPN senior recruiting analyst Dave Telep said Parker would be the “key piece” to Duke’s already stellar class.
“Losing Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly in the same year is huge, but adding Jabari really stabilizes that frontcourt,” Telep said. “There’s a culture of winning there at Duke that Jabari will slide into so easily because he’s so unselfish and so humble. Jabari will fit in exceptionally well there.”
Parker, the reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year, joins Jones and Ottawa (Kan.) swingman Semi Ojeleye in Duke’s 2013 recruiting class.
“I’m so excited to have him on board with us,” Jones said. “I wanted to contend for a national championship next season and with Jabari coming I feel like we can definitely do that.”