One on one with Jabari Parker

Duke's prized freshman talks about his role, the transition to college, and more.

First official Duke team practice is in the books...how are you feeling Jabari?

Jabari Parker: It felt good, and I feel great because I'm learning real basketball from one of the legends. Coach K is one of the greatest coaches in history and he's been coaching the best professionals too, so I know everything he says coming from a great place, and my work won't be in vain.

You are coming in with a lot of expectation, how do you balance that with the idea of running your own race as Coach K likes to say?

Don't ever get in the mindset that everything is built only around you, because it's not. It's built around the team, and that's my whole attitude going into the season. Everything I do is geared towards helping everybody succeed and get better. It'll help me of course, but it's all about wins and bringing the team together.

From a role perspective, how do you see yourself blending with the team in light you are going to be playing a big part and will be asked to do a lot of different things?

Yeah I'm going to be playing a big role, but that's from being a basketball player. I don't have one specific role like you said. Instead I have almost every role on the floor, to talk on defense, get blocks, get rebounds, get assists, get the 50/50 balls, I just want to be an overall player for the team.

You've said you've been in a learning process since you got here, what lessons have you already learned?

The first thing I've learned about myself that I still have a long way to go in terms of development. I have confidence coming in as a freshman into college, but I know that in order for me to be effective, efficient, I have to recognize that it's going to take a lot of learning, patience and hard work.

Do you see yourself being a vocal leader on this team, or will it be more lead by example?

Both, I think everybody needs to be a leader, everybody needs to be vocal so we can all have improvement. If everybody is getting on each other, there's no room for complacency. Everybody knows their role and then looks to make the team effort 110%.

Coach K talked in his press conference about how each player has to take responsibility for their own game for the team to function well, for you Jabari, what did you take responsibility this offseason to prepare for the season?

I definitely focused on my weight, and being in shape...great shape. Coach expressed a lot to me about being everywhere on the court, so in order to do that, I just can't be in shape to only be a three man, or a four man, or a five man. I need to be combining all those positions into one and pushing myself to be a great player.

How did the offseason conditioning tests and the performance tests go for you in light of that commitment you made?

I did well, honestly. Not to be arrogant or cocky, but I feel I'm underrated because people think I can't do this or I can't do that. I believe I'm a basketball player. I may not make highlight plays, but I make my own highlight plays just by getting the job done. Also, the training staff are really helping me with my athletic ability by making it to where I'm able to prevent injury.

Off the court-how are you liking being a Duke University student?

Oh, it's great. That's one of the main reasons why I came here was when I saw the population, and how everything is a community. It's a true university in that I'm not the center of attention and everybody is unique in their own ways. The education here is very important to me and just being around the student body here has helped me become more of a people person here, just like I was in Chicago.

From a film perspective during the offseason, what kind of things were you learning as you sat down with the coaches to work on your game in that way?

Being vocal, being out of comfort zone. I know I'm a freshman and I have a lot to learn, but that shouldn't give any issues to not do everything the right way or at a fast pace or at the right time. I'll improve, but everything has to be fast.

We saw that recently the team had a chance to have a team meeting with Grant Hill and Gerald Henderson, what kind of things did you take away from that conversation?

Just treating your body like a Temple. What you put into it is going to show. With me, I can't eat fast foods like I used to back in Chicago. I gotta take care of my body, get rest and just the intake because it's a long season, like six or seven months with the season that we want to do, so you have to put your body in the best situation to do that.


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