At first glance, Jabari Parker is a tree of a man. After further examination, he is still a tree of a man. His power is ostensibly rooted in his trunk-like lower body. Parker is built unlike any other player in college basketball right now. The only player I have seen in person with a base like Parker is former Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger. The difference between Parker and Sullinger, of course, is Parker’s explosiveness. Where Sullinger used his sturdy base as a rebounding weapon, Parker’s base makes him a versatile threat on both ends and on every area of the court.
Once you get passed Parker’s physical tools, it’s hard not to drool over his offensive skill set. Already Parker is polishing various aspects of his offensive game. Other top prospects like Wiggins are still trying to find consistency in their jump shot and other basic areas of the game. Parker, on the other hand, has a consistent and trusted mid range jumper, extended range, and the ability to attack the rim off the bounce. I anticipate Parker will be plagued by words like “length” and “upside” heading into the draft, but he is productive and rock steady. Don’t worry about a learning curve or any extended slump, Parker has too many tools and maturity beyond his years.
There was one Parker characteristic that stood out above all else. Parker has an unremitting willingness to seek and receive coaching. Seemingly every dead ball is an opportunity for Parker to receive insight from a player or member of the coaching staff. If there is a two shot foul expect Parker to quickly make his way to the sideline to get insight from either Coach Krzyzewski or Wojciechowski before entering the lane to rebound on the second free throw. It is rare to see this unquenchable thirst for knowledge among any level of athlete, and it is particularly uncommon to be seen from an 18 year old who is sure to become a top five pick in the NBA draft regardless of his performance the rest of the season. This intangible characteristic and burning desire certainly shouldn’t be overlooked or marginalized. In fact, this attribute will be essential to Parker’s success and longevity in the league. The kid has it figured out.
Specifically as it relates to his performance last night, Parker didn’t disappoint. 14 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 steals. Typical Parker consistency, but that’s not what I’ll remember from my first encounter with Parker. I will remember his tree trunk of a lower body, his polished offensive skill set, and his desire to take in information while others are just taking breathers. Parker is different. Parker gets it. Parker is ready.