Rushed Reactions: Jabari Parker Makes His Case To Be #1 But So Does KansasPosted by nvr1983 on November 13th, 2013
Coming into this season we found it strange that nearly every media outlet was ignoring Jabari Parker, who was a Sports Illustrated cover boy and the #1 player in the class of 2013 for much of his time in high school. We figured it was the explosiveness of Andrew Wiggins, the raw power of Julius Randle, or the rustiness that Parker showed recovering from a foot injury to explain his absence from much of the discourse. Perhaps it was a combination of all three. Regardless of what led the media to forget about Parker, his play tonight should remind everybody that the race for the #1 spot in the 2014 NBA Draft is still a three-player race.
Wiggins is an obvious choice given his unmatched athleticism. Randle makes a strong case with his ability to dominate around the basket. The case for Parker is a little more complex in that he is a more complete player right now than the other two. He does not have one skill that will take your breath away, but he does nearly everything well. Whether it is driving to the basket, finishing a dunk that reminds you of Grant Hill in the 1991 National Championship game, hitting almost every kind of jumper imaginable, or defending a potential NBA center in Joel Embiid despite being nearly half a foot shorter, Parker exhibits everything you would expect from a future NBA star. And for much of tonight it appeared that he was going to make Chicago his city as he had done for his four years at Simeon. Unfortunately for the Duke freshman and the locals who came out to support him, Bill Self and the Jayhawks had a very different narrative to write tonight.
At this point we don’t know what to say about Bill Self. People who follow college basketball would put him on the very short list of the best coaches in the country, but the public at-large would probably put him a step below the bigger names like Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari. Since he has taken over at Kansas, all he does is win. He may never approach Krzyzewski’s ever-growing wins record, but when he decides to stop roaming the sidelines in Lawrence he will be very high on that list. What he is doing so far in this season probably won’t be considered among his greatest coaching jobs given the praise heaped on his incoming class of freshmen, but it’s easy to forget that he is replacing his entire starting lineup from a Big 12 championship team.
Andrew Wiggins gets the lion’s share of the headlines and rightfully so, but tonight proved that this Kansas team is so much more than just him. Wiggins did his share of work in scoring 22 of the quietest points you will ever see from a presumed #1 pick while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Perry Ellis, the most prized Kansas in-state product in years, scored 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field, and freshmen Wayne Selden and Frank Mason added 15 points each. The scariest thing about this Kansas team is that it still has quite a bit of room to grow with Embiid learning how to play at this level and Naadir Tharpe still getting used to his role as the team’s primary ball-handler. Kentucky might have garnered all of the headlines about limitless potential coming into this season, but the ceiling for Kansas should not be much lower than that of the Wildcats.
Obviously, Kansas has some things that they need to work on, but they have four months to work out those issues. With Bill Self guiding them that should be a very scary thought for the rest of the country.