Published on Oct 20, 2013
Kanye West's "Dark Fantasy" blared on the speakers at Cameron Indoor Stadium, fighting to be heard over the deafening cheers, Jabari Parker thought about one of the lyrics, one that was perfect for this moment.
"Part of my song is like, 'I fantasized about this back in Chicago,' and it's true," said Parker, a highly anticipated freshman. "When I was hurt, and then after the season, I was just anticipating being a Duke Blue Devil. It's a very big blessing."
Parker didn't bask in the limelight as he walked across the hardwood for his formal introduction -- "most importantly, you just want to get the crowd involved and not boast too much," he said -- but he stole the show with his play during the scrimmage.
He was all over the floor and posted 16 points (with 6-for-10 shooting from the floor) and six rebounds as his team won 36-34. During the next 15-minute scrimmage, paired mainly with his fellow starters -- Amile Jefferson, Rodney Hood, Andre Dawkins and Quinn Cook -- he posted a team-high eight points and eight rebounds in a 33-30 win.
His highlight came during the second scrimmage, when he blew past two defenders and finished a baseline drive with a reverse, one-handed slam. Even coach Mike Krzyzewski, leading his 34th Blue Devils squad, couldn't help but smile.
"Coach has really emphasized being on the glass," Parker said. "You can make plays, you can get second-chance opportunities, you can be getting a break on the defensive end. So, that's very special coming into my role just being active. I have to play the (power foward)position, of course, and I have to play multiple spots and be aggressive on both sides of the floor."
The rebounding activity has been a point the staff has been making recently, so his teammates were pleasantly surprised by Parker's dominance on the boards. A few times, rebounds turned into fast-break points, with Parker bringing the ball up the floor and finishing on the other end.
"That's what they want me to do, start the break," Parker said. "He wants us a play real fast, up-tempo game and make the teams that we play against very uncomfortable when we go fast tempo."
During practices, sometimes Parker and Hood will go against each other to best simulate the level of defender each probably will face in a game. But when asked who guards him the toughest, Parker didn't hesitate.
"Josh," he said, referring to senior Josh Hairston. "Real active on the defensive end. He makes a lot of noise, gets you out of your mind. He wants you to get unconscious sometimes."
Parker knew this was coming from Hairston -- the senior told him the first day he stepped on campus he was going to push him.
"I try to be physical with him and simulate what people will do to him," Hairston said. "Jabari knows its nothing personal. Me and Jabari, I look at him as my younger brother. He's very talented and skilled. He's one of the best freshmen in the country. But I don't want him thinking we were going to take days off."
No days off now likely will pay off in a few weeks for Duke, when Parker will return to his hometown to face Kansas on Nov.12. He's just a Chicago guy with nice flow.
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