Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker declared for the NBA draft in a Sports Illustrated essay on Thursday.
"Ultimately, I boiled my decision down to two simple questions," Parker wrote. "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."
A member of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints, Parker said that he will not go on a two-year mission, instead pursuing his dream of following in the footsteps of his father, former NBA player Sonny Parker.
"After talking with my family, my local church leaders and a couple close friends I'm at peace with my decision to forego a mission for now and join the NBA," he wrote. "I don't consider myself an exception to the rule. At this point in my life I know this is the right decision."
Parker, 19, averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds in 30.7 minutes per game for the Blue Devils this season, earning First Team All-American, All-ACC and ACC Freshman of the Year honors. He tallied 14 points (on 4-for-14 shooting) and 7 rebounds in Duke's NCAA tournament loss to Mercer.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix placed Parker at No. 3 on his latest big board.
Parker has proved to be a prolific college scorer (19.1 points per game), a strong rebounder (8.7) and a developing three-point shooter (35.8 percent). His defensive problems against Mercer were a high-profile reminder of Parker's biggest question marks. Teams still aren't sure which forward position Parker will play in the NBA -- or if he can defend either one. Still, a strong-scoring/weak-defending forward can thrive in the NBA. Right, Carmelo?A native of Chicago, Parker is listed at 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds and currently ranks No. 3 on DraftExpress.com’s Top 100 and No. 2 on Chad Ford’s Top 100.