Here at The League News, we only interview the best of the best. Whether it be first round draft picks, Hall of Famers, or All-Stars, we’ve had quite an impressive list of players. That continues on in this edition of “Inside The League” as we interview top NBA draft prospect and Duke University star Jabari Parker.
Brian Rzeppa: What was it like to win 4 state championships in high school? Were any more important than the others?
Jabari Parker: It was a dream come true. That’s something at a young age that I got the taste of, being a champion. Not just for yourself, but for the school, for your city, and for your community, because I came from that community. You really don’t want to take for granted, coming from those places. You just want to make it the best, whether it’s the education that you get, or the basketball, just to illuminate how much our neighborhood needs to strive and go forward, but winning four state championships is just a dream come true, ever since I was a freshman.
Continuing on with high school, Simeon is well-known for pumping out great players, and it was actually included in the ESPN 30 for 30 called “Benji”. What was the culture like around the program?
It’s just discipline. The coaches there that have always coached, Robert Smith and Bob Hamrick have always emphasized discipline and family. Not being complacent, but always striving to be excellent. When we had two coaches in our last four years, you can see the passion that really goes around and what it takes to win in the program.
How do you think Coach K and Duke University are going to prepare you for the next level?
We have some of the best resources, down to the trainers and academic advisors, the people that take care of media are just the best. Coach surrounds you with the people you’ll need to prepare you for the next level. I’m taking all of it in and using it to my advantage to keep learning.
As far as your life at Duke, do you still feel like a regular college student even with all of the hype that you had coming in?
The students down here don’t treat you like that. Everyone is just as important in their field of work. You don’t really stand out, because you might see someone that might invent something that’s going to change the world. The little I do on the basketball end, that’s all good, but Duke is strong on every end. I just want to do what I have to do to help make the team and Duke University better.
Do you feel any pressure following in the footsteps of all of the legends (Grant Hill, JJ Redick, Kyrie Irving, etc.) that have played at Duke in the past?
It gives me something to look up to. You want to leave your mark on the program, just like they did in their time here. Hopefully with the work you put in, you can do it yourself, and follow in their footsteps.
What do you think is your best attribute as a player?
My best attribute is just getting my teammates involved. I think people forget that a lot of attention is going to be on you, so it’s going to create opportunities for others. Hopefully I can keep improving in that field. Just look for people that are open, and not be selfish.
Is there anyone that you model your game after, or do you just play your own game?
I feel like I have my own game. I take little pieces from different people in the NBA that are successful, different forwards, guards, and even centers. I just want to play the overall game.
When you were growing up, who was your favorite NBA player?
I focused more on high school basketball growing up and had three favorite high school players. Will Bynum, he went to Crane, he plays for the Pistons now, Derrick [Rose] and Jon [Scheyer]. He’s done so much in this state. Just hearing about him, and me playing for the Rising Stars, just gave me a chance to feel the North Shore area and how good he was being the best player out of that.
You can follow Jabari Parker on Twitter to wish him luck on the Blue Devils’ path to the NCAA Tournament, and be sure to follow him throughout the season on his way to being one of the top picks of the 2014 NBA Draft.
Thanks for reading.
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