Jabari Parker's True Value Will Be Measured in Huge Duke vs. Kansas Clash

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2013

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 08:  Jabari Parker #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after a play during their game against the Davidson Wildcats at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 8, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Duke forward Jabari Parker entered the season as one of many highly touted freshmen in the nation. Parker didn't disappoint, looking dominant in his debut game. But how he performs on Tuesday against Kansas will say a lot about how he measures up against college basketball's elite.

The 6'8" freshman from Chicago looked like the best player on the floor when Duke smashed Davidson by a 111-77 score on Friday. The Blue Devils are the No. 4 team in the nation despite losing players like Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly, and Parker is probably the biggest reason why.

Not only did Parker drop a team-high 22 points against Davidson, but he already has a signature play under his belt, as he finished off a highlight-reel alley-oop, per SportsCenter:

Although Davidson has been a thorn in the side of big-time teams in the past, there is no Stephen Curry on the squad this year. Davidson may be a force in its conference, but Duke is clearly at a completely different level. With that in mind, Parker's performance has to be taken with a grain of salt.

When Duke and Kansas meet on Tuesday, it will be important not only because the Jayhawks are ranked No. 5, but also because Parker will go head-to-head with fellow freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins, as Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld notes on Twitter:

Wiggins looked good in his own right to open the season, dropping 16 points against Louisiana-Monroe. But Parker has received much of the attention thus far. Wiggins entered the season as the prospective No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, so he'll likely be eager to upstage Parker when they meet.

While the success of their respective teams is what matters most, there is no doubt that draft status will be in the back of their minds. Both Wiggins and Parker are viewed as likely one-and-done players, so all eyes will be on them come Tuesday.

It already seems fairly safe to say that Parker is a can't-miss player at the collegiate level, but it isn't fair to evaluate him against other top freshmen until he gets the job done against elite competition. If Parker is great against Kansas and even outplays Wiggins, then there is no doubt that NBA teams will start to reevaluate the state of their draft boards. If Parker's output is significantly less against Kansas, though, then expectations will be tempered.

Breaking down a player after one or two games probably isn't the best course of action, but the top freshman have been getting picked apart since before they ever played a collegiate game, so they're clearly used to it.

Regardless of how well or poorly Parker plays on Tuesday, he'll have an entire season ahead of him to continue developing. With that said, the buzz will be impossible to stop if he is able to come up big against Kansas. Parker is already the most talked-about player in college basketball after bursting onto the scene; however, a great game against Kansas will ensure that he has staying power.


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