Deseret News on 20 October 2012

Why Jabari Parker chose the Blue Devils

by Jeff Benedict

Why Jabari Parker chose the Blue Devils

The anticipation is over. Jabari Parker, the top high school basketball player in the country, is headed to Duke. This afternoon he made it official in a nationally televised press conference held at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, bringing an end to an unprecedented recruiting process that began over three years ago.

BYU fans will no doubt be disappointed. So will the folks at Florida, Michigan State and Stanford. But nobody should be surprised. The top recruit wants to play for the top coach. Many consider Mike Krzyzewski to be second only to the late John Wooden on the short list of all-time greatest college coaches. Krzyzewski also coaches the U.S. Olympic team. Olympians LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have both said that if they had gone to college they would have gone to Duke. That says a lot.

From a basketball standpoint, Jabari Parker and Mike Krzyzewski are a match made in hoops heaven. But their relationship already runs deeper than the hardwood. For starters, Krzyzewski understands and respects Jabari’s faith. Jabari will not be the first Mormon to play for Duke. More importantly, Krzyzewski has a philosophy and lifestyle that is ideally tailored to accommodate Jabari’s personal goals and priorities.

I first met Coach K when I was a film coach for Northeastern University in 1992. We played at Duke that year. The Blue Devils had Grant Hill, Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley. We lost — big. But I met a man who was so much more than a basketball coach. He genuinely stresses academic excellence, holds his players to the highest standards and prepares young men to be successful long after their playing days are over.

Coach Krzyzewski and I also have the same book editor. Through that connection I know what kind of father and husband he is. I’ll put it this way. Jabari could not be in better hands.

At the same time, Krzyzewski is getting a future lottery pick whose hallmark is humility. Jabari and I practice the same faith. I know him and his family in ways that I seldom get to know the people I write about. His character is far more compelling than his game.

Earlier this year I wrote the Sports Illustrated cover story on Jabari. Since then I’ve watched him go through the decision-making process for choosing a school. The pressure and expectations have been extraordinary. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Jabari Parker is a 17-year-old high school student. He’s a teenager.

Yet the poise and wisdom he has shown throughout this process would make any parent proud. Any of the other schools on Jabari’s list — Michigan State, Florida, BYU and Stanford — would have been a good choice. But in Duke he made the best choice.

Jeff Benedict is considered one of America’s top nonfiction writers. He is a special features contributor for Sports Illustrated, a columnist for SI.com and the author of 10 critically acclaimed books.

Jeff Benedict is the bestselling author of sixteen non-fiction books, as well as a television and film producer. His latest book, The Dynasty, is the definitive inside story of the New England Patriots under Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, each of whom cooperated for the book. Published in 2020, it was an instant New York Times bestseller. The book is being developed into a 10-part documentary series, which Jeff is executive producing. In 2018, Jeff co-wrote the #1 bestseller Tiger Woods and he was an executive producer on the HBO documentary “Tiger” that was based on the book and aired in 2021. The book is currently being developed into a scripted series, which Jeff is executive producing. Jeff is also the executive producer on a documentary based on his book Poisoned that will air on Netflix. In 2017, he co-produced “Little Pink House,” a feature film starring Catherine Keener and Jeanne Tripplehorn that was based on Jeff’s book of the same title. And in 2016, Jeff co-wrote with Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young his bestselling autobiography QB, which was the basis of an NFL Films documentary. Jeff has been a special-features writer for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, and the Hartford Courant, and his essays have appeared in the New York Times. His stories have been the basis of segments on 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, HBO Real Sports, Discovery Channel, Good Morning America, 20/20, 48 Hours, NFL Network, and NPR.

TIGER WOODS 200w  TheDynasty cover 200w