FanTake: Explaining the Delay with the Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood Decisions

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Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood

I nervously check ESPN, GoDuke, and Duke Report every few hours. I’m on Twitter looking for any rumors or inside information. I even have a Google alert set to notify me of any news articles with the key words “Rodney Hood NBA Draft” and “Jabari Parker NBA draft.”

I’m just like every other Duke fan, anxiously waiting to find out if Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker will stay at Duke and make next year’s team a frontrunner for a National Championship or if they will head to the NBA and leave us with another “extremely talented but inexperienced” team.

During this waiting game, I’ve been thinking about why it’s taking so long for Parker and Hood to make a decision (you know, besides the fact that they are teenagers who are being asked to make a life-altering, potentially million-dollar decision in a matter of weeks). Here’s my theory for each of them:

Rodney Hood

I believe Rodney Hood is almost a lock to declare for the draft. He was touted as one of the best freshmen in the country during his season at Mississippi State, and Coach K thought enough of his skills to make him a captain on this year’s team before he ever played in any real competition. He likely came to Duke thinking that he would play one year on a good Duke team, take the team deep into the NCAA tournament while gaining much-needed exposure and head to the NBA as a Top 10 pick. While he had a very good season, he was always second fiddle to Jabari Parker and did not have a good showing in his lone NCAA tournament game.

My assumption is that Hood is waiting as long as he can to see who else will be declaring for the draft. The draft class this year could be stacked, especially if the entire Kentucky crew decides to declare, which could very well push Rodney outside of the lottery. If the Kentucky one-and-dones all decide to take the quick NBA millions, Rodney may consider returning, improving his defense and becoming a more consistent offensive threat, and then declare next year when the draft is a bit weaker.

Jabari Parker

Jabari is more of an enigma than Rodney Hood. He is widely thought of as a top three pick in this year’s draft, so returning for another year would have very little positive effect on his overall draft stock. He definitely has areas of his game that could use some improvement, but most players his age would choose to make those improvements while being paid than to do so while eating Top Ramen and living in a dorm. Jabari Parker, however, is not “most players.”

My theory is that Jabari is trying to decide what he truly values at this point in his life, as well as waiting to see what Joel Embiid will do. When it comes to values, the case can be made for staying in college for another year. Once Parker moves on to the NBA, basketball is no longer just a “thing he’s good at.” It becomes his job. Parker may understand this and want to have another year enjoying the college life (I can’t blame him … I often daydream about being back in college with nothing to worry about but going to class and remembering to retrieve my laundry from the public laundry room.)

I also believe that Joel Embiid’s decision will affect Jabari, as most draft boards have Embiid going #1 and Parker going #2. If Embiid decides to remain at Kansas for another year – which isn’t be out of the question since he has only been playing the sport for a few years – Parker may decide to forgo the rest of his college career and head to the pros. It would be an extremely tough decision to turn down a chance to be drafted in the top five in the NBA draft … it may be impossible to resist being the first overall pick.

Of course, I would love to see both of these players come back. A starting five of Tyus Jones, Rasheed Sulaimon, Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor would immediately be the best in the country, but I totally understand if one or both of them decide to leave Duke. In the meantime, I’ll keep checking ESPN.com and waiting for a decision to be made.

You can follow Aaron on twitter at @bluedevilauth and visit his website Blue Devil Authority.

5 comments

  1. Great opinion. I think you’re spot on, especially about the fact that they are young kids making a huge decision. I live in Utah, I’m a Jazz fan. The Jazz have been terrible this year and are bound for the lottery. If luck is on our side, we could get into the top 3 and have a potential to draft Parker. Not only could we use his skills and size on our team, but the fact that he is Mormon would sell seats immediately in this state. We feel like the stars are aligning here.

    My question is, do you know when players have to make a decision to declare for the draft? Is there a deadline, if so when is it?

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. The NCAA-imposed draft deadline is April 15th, but I don’t really think the NCAA has any power to enforce it. The NBA deadline is April 27th, so that is when players definitely have to make their decision.

  2. As a fellow Duke fan, I respect the opinions written above… Just a couple thoughts…

    1. JPark is a devoted Mormon, if he does stay, what are the chances he takes the “mandatory” sabbatical that the religion asks of 19 y/o males?

    2. In your dream projected starting line up at the bottom, you gave Tjones the green light at point…. Have we forgotten that we have a Senior, former MHSAA PG coming back at that position? Let’s not shew QC off the team just yet. No matter how good the class is that’s coming in.

    • There is no guarantee that Jabari will go on his mission. Not every Mormon has done this. Danny Ainge did not take one. One could argue that raising his profile in CBB and then in the NBA would actually be better for the LDS.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I agree that Jabari Parker choosing to take his Mormon mission is definitely a possibility. While missions are not mandatory, Jabari is a very unique person and his faith is extremely important to him, so you definitely can’t rule the mission trip out for him.

      You’re right about Quinn Cook in that we should not give up on him. I did give Tyus Jones the green light ahead of him only because he appears to be more of a pass-first point guard, which I think would mesh well with the potentially unstoppable scoring of Hood, Parker, Sulaimon, and Okafor. If everyone returned, our second unit would need a point guard who has the ability to take on more of a scoring responsibility, which QC has shown signs of.