Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
BUFFALO — With Duke’s stunning loss to Mercer in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Friday, Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood suddenly must make decisions about the NBA Draft a lot quicker than they probably imagined they would have to.
There will be no run to the Sweet 16 or Final 4 for Parker and Hood. They are done for the season — and probably for their college careers.
DraftExpress.com has the 6-foot-8 Parker projected as the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA Draft, with the 6-8 Hood at No. 16.
“I’ve loved coaching them,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters, according to Teddy Greinstein. “We all have to live with that (result).”
One NBA executive said he fully expects Parker to come out, even though there has been talk that he might return to play with fellow Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor and Duke’s stellar recruiting class.
Parker himself told SNY.tv earlier this year that he could envision playing with the 6-foot-10 Okafor, the projected No. 1 pick in 2015.
The exec said he would take Parker at No. 3 behind the Kansas duo of Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins “unless Embiid’s back is a real issue.” Then he would take Parker No. 2 behind Wiggins.Sonny Parker recently told SNY.tv that Jabari would make a decision on his future when the season’s over, which it now is.
Meantime, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, speaking generally, said here that he doesn’t think players make decisions on the NBA Draft based on how their college teams finish their seasons.
“I think guys make those decisions based on where they are in the draft,” he told SNY.tv. “This year there’s probably about 30 guys thinking they’re going to be in the Top 10 picks, so it’s crazy. More than 30 probably that think they’re going to be in the Top 10.”
Boeheim said he didn’t think losing early in the tournament would impact a player’s decision to come out or not.
“I don’t think it would,” he said. “I don’t think it would. I’m not going to be specific about anybody but my experience is guys look and if they see they fall where they’re favorable [they leave]…If you go 15th in the draft, you’re nothing. You might be out of the league in two years. It used to be a first-round draft pick you had a chance. That’s nothing. Those guys are out of the league. Half the guys taken in the first round the last three years are not even in the league.
“You gotta be in the top seven, eight, 10 picks to make sure you’re going to be playing in the NBA.”
Two of Boeheim’s players — freshman point guard Tyler Ennis and sophomore forward Jerami Grant — are projected as first-round picks.
Asked if he’s given them this spiel, Boeheim said, “Well, I talk to them about it. But you gotta be ready physically. Just because you play good in a college game, that doesn’t mean anything. Are you big enough, strong enough, can you shoot?
“It’s not even dominate. You gotta have a skillset. They don’t work with you up there. You’re either ready to play up there or you’re not. You go up there and you can’t shoot, you’re not playing. You up there and you’re not strong enough, you’re not playing. People forget how good the players are in the NBA.
“Kemba Walker, he’s about what, the 20th best point guard in the NBA? If he’d have played here for us yesterday, he’d have had 40 points. That’s what he would’ve had and everybody would’ve said, ‘Jeez, he’s pretty good.'”
Parker doesn’t face those issues, and that’s why he’s expected to come out.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.