You Remind Me Of...: Jabari Parker

It's always helpful for fans to have a point of reference when learning about new players that will be in Durham on a year to year basis. Often, it's helpful to compare a new recruit to a former Blue Devil. We've done just that with the help of the national recruiting team and Duke historian/author Jim Sumner.

When looking for the best formula for comparison, we decided on a three-step process:

First, we asked the national recruiting team of Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, and Josh Gershon to provide a scouting report of each of the incoming freshmen as well as some of the top Duke targets in the class of 2014.

Next, we compiled the data and then removed the names associated with each player card.

Finally, those blank player cards were presented to Mr. Sumner. We asked Jim to name the first former Blue Devil that came to mind based on the scouting report.

Here's the result…

Jabari Parker
Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 235 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-0 Scouting Report:

  • Can score in a variety of ways
  • Extremely high BB IQ
  • Posts up, but prefers turnaround jumpers or up and under moves
  • Good rebounder for his size
  • Able to block shots with anticipation and footwork
  • Very good athlete
  • Capable ball handler and passer
  • Needs to improve conditioning

Quick Description: A do it all player, he can dribble, pass, and shot at a high level, and the athleticism is also there. One of the most competitive kids around, he has a desire to be great and was bred to be a pro from birth. Very few have been better over the past several years coming out of high school. - Evan Daniels

Parker is extremely skilled. He's versatile and can play both forward spots. He's a pretty good shooter. He could certainly improve his conditioning. - Brian Snow

Sumner Says…: Danny Ferry (1986-1989)

It's pretty high praise to compare an incoming freshman to one of the best players to ever play at Duke. And though it's a different time, Parker will enter Durham with at least the same level of expectation faced by Ferry when walked into during the summer of 1986.

Ferry was a two-time high school All-American at DeMatha Catholic High in Maryland, while also earning Parade Magazine's Player of the Year award in 1985. Ferry was a top five recruit who earned a bid to play in the McDonald's All-American game, where he joined future teammate Quinn Snyder.

Parker, meanwhile, is a four-time state champion who has been been consistently ranked in the top five of his class, played and earned MVP honors in the McDonald's game, and has already appeared on Sports Illustrated with the caption "The Best High School Player Since LeBron James".

As a true freshman, Ferry appeared in all 40 games of the 1986 season, and started in 21 of those contests. He averaged just 5.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game that season, while deferring to upperclassmen leaders such as Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, and David Henderson. Ferry split time at the center position with senior big forward Jay Bilas during a season in which Duke reeled off a program record 37 victories on the way to a National Runner-Up position.

Over the next three seasons Ferry would consistently up his scoring averages from 14.0 to 19.1 to 22.6 as a senior. That 1988-1989 season included the famed 58 point scoring outburst against Miami in South Beach.

In each of those three subsequent seasons, Ferry averaged between 7.4 and 7.8 rebounds per game. After not attempting a single three point attempt as a freshman, Ferry began to show his range, hitting 39 percent from the perimeter as a sophomore, 35 percent as a junior, and then 43 percent from long range as a senior.

Not content to just score in bunches, Ferry was also a very good passing big guy who could handle the ball and redirect the point of attack as well as anyone. Over his last three seasons in Durham, the 6'10 forward averaged 4.8 assists against 3.5 turnovers per contest.

Much like Ferry found himself operating in the post early on in his career, it is likely that Parker will see some time in the paint during his early career at Duke. At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Parker will likely be asked to score inside, and to take the opposing bigs out to the perimeter to create space for Duke's numerous guards and wings to attack the basket.

As he worked his way back from a foot injury throughout his senior season, Parker showed the ability to operate almost exclusively inside the painted area, but when he arrives at Duke it's likely his game's evolution mixed with Duke's expectations and needs will result in Parker playing a role similar to the latter stages of Ferry's career. That was evident when we spoke with the five star prospect throughout the Spring.

"They are planning on him touching the ball all over the court, and a lot of the things he does at Simeon, he'll do at Duke," said Lola Parker, Jabari's mother. "With his vision and passing ability, they will use him in the passing game. Jabari doesn't have to score, but he loves to pass because he's got a high IQ. Just because of his presence, he does so many things. He's going to post up, he'll bring the ball up, you name it, he's going to be asked to do it."

Defensively, Ferry had a few inches on Parker, but Jabari will be asked to defend the four and five positions at times. It's something Parker has acknowledged and said he's capable of doing.

"I'm confident, and I think I can improve of course, but playing with older guys during the summer can help me in my journey with that."

Perhaps the major difference between Ferry and Parker will be their stays at the collegiate level. As noted above, it's a different age in college hoops these days, and players like Parker can only be penciled into the lineup one a year by year basis. Ferry stayed four seasons and had his jersey retired, but those days are long gone, and four years from enrolling at Duke it is likely that Parker will be entering the last year of his NBA rookie contract. Still, if Parker can produce near the level Ferry demonstrated in the latter parts of his career, it's not out of the question that Jabari could lead Duke as far in March as Danny did.

If that happens, let's hope that a player who looks a lot like Purvis Ellison doesn't have a huge, huge night.

About Jim Sumner: Jim Sumner specializes in southern sports. He is a columnist for Go Duke: The Magazine, Inside Carolina magazine, Duke Basketball Report and College Sumner is a regular contributor to The Associated Press, the Durham Herald-Sun, the Wolfpacker, Basketball Times, ACC Sports Journal,,, Tar Heel Tipoff and Blue Devil Tipoff. He has written for The ACC Handbook, Baseball America, Duke Magazine, Basketball America, Our State, Metro Magazine, and numerous other magazines, journals, and websites.

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