When Jabari Parker was drafted second overall Thursday by the Milwaukee Bucks, he already had a national reputation. Parker was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior, then went to Duke where he averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds this past season, earning USBWA National Freshman of the Year honors.
But his humility and loyalty might not be as well known. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parker has a strong religious faith. He considered BYU or going on a Mormon mission rather than attending Duke immediately after high school. He pondered the idea of coming back to Duke to get another year of education, despite being bound for the top three in the draft.
Parker made another unique statement when asked how much of the Bucks he has watched and how much he feels he fits in.
"They're a young team," Parker said. "I feel like I can contribute right off the bat. I feel like I'm going to be able to grow with that organization, and I'm trying to be a throwback player, only stick with one team."
Holy Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, John Havlicek, David Robinson, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.
"This might bite me in the butt years from now, but right now I just want to stick with whoever's rolling with me," Parker said.
Oh, it certainly can. Jabari, you just broke NBA code. LeBron James is chuckling. Are you really going to get drafted by a small market team and not seek out a big contract in a big city?
For Parker, the situation in Milwaukee makes sense. He will be less than 100 miles from his hometown of Chicago, and he can be the face of the franchise with little pressure. He has a supporting cast featuring Brandon Knight, Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokoumpo.
"My parents can easily access me, and I also get to enjoy that Great Lake water again," he said of the team's location.
Parker may be ready, physically, for the NBA, but the NBA may not be ready for him. Parker's swagger is all related to his calm demeanor, not outwardly expression.
"What does the draft really give entitlement to, the best player?" he said. "You got Doug McDermott scoring 3,000 points. Shoot, Julius Randle went to the national championship. Shabazz Napier won two national championships. I mean, we're all good. We're all great players."
Welcome to the NBA, Jabari. And to us, welcome to Jabari Parker's NBA.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.
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