Florida Basketball: What's Next for Gators Following Jabari Parker Decision

Alex KayCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2012

Jan 16, 2012; Springfield, MA, USA; Chicago Simeon Wolverines forward Jabari Parker (22) holds the ball while being guarded by Findlay Pilots forward Winston Shepard (right) during the first half at Blake Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Superstar swingman prospect Jabari Parker decided to take his talents to Duke, snubbing the hopeful Florida Gators in the process and leaving Billy Donovan’s program with a major hole to fill in this upcoming recruiting class. 

Parker announced his commitment to the Duke Blue Devils on December 20, according to the Detroit Free PressJoe Rexrode:

Jabari Parker picks Duke.

— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) December 20, 2012

Jabari Parker commits to Duke twitter.com/BleacherReport…

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 20, 2012

While some coaches would rest on their laurels after signing in a pair of 5-star talents—Kasey Hill (PG) and Chris Walker (PF), according to 247 Sports—Donovan was eager to add the crown jewel of the Class of 2013 to his coveted haul.

Parker, a Chicago native, is a natural small forward at 6’8”, 215 pounds. He’s an absolute force right now and would likely be successful jumping straight from Simeon High School straight into the pros. 

However, he is mandated to play at least one year of college ball. Although he would be a perfect fit alongside the two elite talents that already pledged their allegiance to the Gators, unfortunately for Florida fans, Parker will not be joining them in the Swamp.

After Parker narrowed his possible choices down to a final five (BYU, Duke, Michigan State, Stanford and Florida), the young man made his decision and chose a school he likely feels will provide the best environment for his development as a person and player.

It’s not the end of the world for the Gators, as they are likely going to be a stacked program in 2013 regardless.

On top of Hill's and Walker’s signings, starting center Patric Young, forward Will Yeguete and guard Scottie Wilbekin may be back for their senior seasons, while standout freshman Michael Frazier II will hopefully return for another round in Gainesville.

It will be time to say goodbye to the team’s two best players in 2012, as seniors Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario are moving on, but fresh blood will do this aging Florida squad some good.

Remember, Donovan won his first national championship back in 2006, when the majority of his key players were sophomores. Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Taurean Green all logged huge minutes as starters during their second season with the Gators, and returned as juniors to repeat as champions. 

If these incoming recruits are as good as scouts believe they are, Donovan could have this team back in the Final Four as early as next year.

Parker would have made that journey easier, but it’s certainly not impossible without him, and Florida will be fine with the players it has.