Friday, July 25, 2014

Jeff Benedict: Jabari Parker announces decision to turn pro in first-person essay for SI.com

By Jeff Benedict, For the Deseret News

Published: Thu, April 17 10:40 a.m. MDT

 Duke's Jabari Parker (1) looks up for a rebound against North Carolina State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Duke's Jabari Parker (1) looks up for a rebound against North Carolina State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

(Bob Leverone, AP)

Today, Duke University freshman Jabari Parker announced his decision to enter the 2014 NBA draft. His 1,300-word essay on SI.com marks the first time a student-athlete has declared his intention to leave college for the pro ranks by writing a first-person account with Sports Illustrated.

Typically, announcements of this nature are done through press conference or press releases. But Jabari is not typical. Writing an essay made sense on a number of levels. First, Jabari has a father-son relationship with Coach K. Saying goodbye is difficult. Second, Jabari is a thoughtful, smart student. His athleticism gets all the attention. But Jabari’s academic experience at Duke has been rich, too.

I started writing about Jabari in Sports Illustrated when he was a junior in high school at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago. I chronicled his freshman season at Duke. Along the way we’ve established a close friendship.

But writing with someone is a lot different than writing about someone. In this case, Jabari participated in every step of the process. We exchanged drafts. We edited together. He even engaged in the video production process. In this respect he demonstrated that he truly has been a student-athlete at Duke.

He's also announced that he plans to graduate from Duke by furthering his education while he's in the NBA.

There’s another reason that putting his thoughts down on paper made sense. It leaves no room for misunderstanding. That’s particularly important with respect to Jabari’s decision to forego an LDS Church mission for now. He spent as much time making that decision as he did with the decision to enter the NBA.

Jabari’s father Sonny has run a youth foundation in Chicago for years. He’s helped countless kids through mentoring and coaching. The Parker family’s reputation in the city is built on Sonny’s rich legacy of service to kids. One of Jabari’s goals is to follow his father’s footsteps.

Read Jabari Parker's full first-person account with Sports Illustrated here.

SportsCenter Top 10 Jabari Parker Plays (HD)

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1. Obama10
SYRACUSE, UT,
April 17, 2014

Good young man with his head on straight. The future is bright for Jabari. I wish him all the success in the world.

2. wer
South Jordan, UT,
April 17, 2014

When the spot light shines and the money gets thrown around, just about everything else becomes much lower priority.
Hope he makes it past the the 4.8 years of a NBA player and isn't broke within two years after that.

3. Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA,
April 17, 2014

I predicted just yesterday that Jabari would take until the last day to decide and then he probably wouldn't enter the draft. It was nice of him to take the time to write a 1,300 word essay for SI saying I was completely wrong. Thanks Kabari, you're the best! The least you can do is hope you end up in a Utah Jazz uniform. :-)

4. Challenge to the Foe
Fargo, ND,
April 17, 2014

It would have been more ideal if he would have chosen to serve the Lord first, and then to resume his basketball career either in college or the pros. I wish Jabari the best of luck, and hope he is blessed with a long and prosperous career in the NBA.

5. Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT,
April 17, 2014

Tough situation for this kid, even mentioned by the President of the LDS Church in his conference talk a few weeks ago. I really think that he was aimed at the NBA right from the beginning. BYU was not an option for him because I'm sure he worried about leaving after just one year; attending somewhere like Duke makes that much easier.

Best of luck to him, he'll make a lot of money and be a top player in the league. And as long as he stays a good example to kids then he'll be doing good missionary work.