COMMENTARY – This afternoon, Jabari Parker announced that he will play basketball at Duke University.
The Chicago Simeon High School phenom had listed BYU among his finalists, but it was never really going to happen. And despite what I wrote in this column last week, I’m kind of glad.
Parker would have brought to BYU something the Cougars have rarely experienced: a hired gun.
Programs like Kentucky and Kansas (among others) have become one or two-year layovers for guys like Parker. Gone are the days at those schools where you have a guy stay for three or four years.
In fact, it’s become a running gag that the only guys who stay for their education are the guys who aren’t good enough to be NBA stars. You know, the redshirts. The local guys who were stars at one of the nearby high schools, but never really had a chance on the big stage because they weren’t fast/tall/strong enough.
BYU’s only real experience with that was with Shawn Bradley, the 7-foot-5 Emery High product who played at BYU, went on a mission, then bolted for the NBA.
A lot of BYU fans were hurt by Bradley’s decision. How could he choose money over their beloved Cougars? Especially since he had just returned from an LDS mission, where one of the top lessons is that money won’t buy happiness.
I think Parker would have had to deal with a lot of the same pressures that Bradley felt if he had come to BYU. Fans, classmates and even teammates would have urged him to choose school and church over the riches of the NBA.
Still, it will be interesting to see if Parker has any inclination toward going on a mission. He certainly won’t be going right away as he said in his announcement that he will be attending Duke “next fall.” If, by some miracle, he does go on a mission, will he change his mind about what school he will attend (a la Riley Nelson or Bryan Ruffner)?
As for BYU, coach Dave Rose has established a program built on having players for four years. Tyler Haws is good now. Wait until he’s a senior. And imagine Tyler’s little brother, TJ, a junior and Jackson Emery’s little bro, Nick, a senior at Nationally-No. 1 ranked Lone Peak High, when they’ve had a couple of years of seasoning under Rose’s tutelage.
BYU will be just fine. They will continue to win 20 games each year and contend for a conference title. They will make the NCAA Tournament most years and even win a game or two occasionally.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
In fact, it’s kind of nice to get to know players and integrate them into your sports psyche.
We know the story of Brandon Davies. We felt the underdog success of Noah Hartsock. Jimmer was Jimmer because he chose to stay and be a star in Provo for four years.
Jabari, have fun at Duke and enjoy your millions in the NBA. We’ll still root for you to succeed.
You made the right financial decision.
At BYU, it was never about the money anyway.
Andy Griffin is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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