Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski: Star freshman Jabari Parker is a "treasure to the game"

Jabari Parker #1 of the Duke Blue Devils drives the baseline against Zak Irvin #21 of the Michigan Wolverines during play at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 3, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 79-69.  Grant Halverson/Getty Images

College basketball is now in the "one-and-done" era in which star players leave school for the NBA after one collegiate season.

Duke freshman Jabari Parker could be at the head of this year's draft class. It's a decision he'll make after the season with the help of legendary Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Armen Keteyian of "60 Minutes Sports" sat down with both men.

Thursday night, Keteyian said on "CBS This Morning," brings the latest chapter in one of college basketball's great rivalries -- Duke and North Carolina. Then, on Saturday, the Blue Devils will square off against No. 1-ranked Syracuse in a rematch of far-and-away this season's best game.

Under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke is gunning for its 12th final four appearance and fifth national championship. This time, Krzyzewski told us his team is built around "a treasure."

 

 At 6' 8", 235 pounds -- with a seven-feet-wide wingspan -- freshman Jabari Parker is what might be called an "any" kind of player. He can play anywhere on the court, and, at times, do anything he wants.

The rarest of gems is just beginning to shine.

Krzyzewski said, "Over the years, I've dealt with some of the greatest players in the world. And they've developed. They look at things differently. He has great instincts. And when those instincts couple with those talents, some things you can't teach, come about."

Asked what he thinks when he hears words like that from his coach, Parker said, "It brings out the best in me and what I have to do. And I'm kind of glad of that."

Right now, what Parker is doing is averaging an eye-popping 19 points and eight rebounds per game for the fifth-ranked Blue Devils.

But what makes this season truly unique is the special bond between player and coach who both trace their roots to the Windy City.

Parker, an 18-year-old Mormon, was the high school player of the year last year. His father, Sonny, played in the six seasons in the NBA. Krzyzewski is the winningest coach in the history of major college basketball.

Jeff Benedict, a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated, spent the last six months reporting and writing the revealing cover story in this week's magazine, "The Education of Jabari Parker." 

 

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The Sports Illustrated cover featuring "The Education of Jabari Parker" by Jeff Benedict
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
 

Benedict said, "It's an unusually intimate relationship for athletics. ... You have a coach from inner city Chicago, you have a player from inner city Chicago, but they are separated by generations. And they come together here."

Krzyzewski said, "I asked him to do a thing that he had not been doing for a while. I said, 'You're coming to us physically, but I need your mind and I need your heart."

Jabari said, "Coach is very experienced. He has a lot of knowledge and I'm just here to pick his brain and I'm here to learn as much as possible, and I'm here to be humble, just like a son to his father."

Krzyzewski added, "Jabari's a treasure. He's a treasure to the game. He's pure."

 

 Never more pure and caring than shortly after Christmas when Krzyzewski's only brother Bill, a retired Chicago fire captain, died unexpectedly at the age of 71.

Krzyzewski said, "He's the guy I've looked up to. And I never would have imagined the feeling that I had. I mean, I've never had that, and I got knocked back for a couple weeks. No matter what I did, I couldn't do it like I normally do it."

Keteyian said, "Jabari, when you see that your coach, with tears in his eyes before a game, what's going through your mind?"

Parker replied, "Just for us to show up for him. Because he would do the same thing for me if something was on my mind. He would be there."

True to those words, ever since Duke -- particularly Parker -- have been on fire, including during a career-high 29-point, 16-rebound explosion against Boston College earlier this month, and a monstrous dunk to seal a win over Maryland last Saturday.

It's unclear how long Parker will remain at Duke. He's projected by many to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in June. Even so, the lessons and moments in this class appear destined to last.

Krzyzewski said, "If the opportunity presents itself to go to the NBA, but he won't be going alone. He'll be going and all of us will be going with him. He will always be Duke and our family."

The education of Jabari Parker happens as much off the court as on. Twice during summer school at Duke he lost his wallet -- only to have it returned to the basketball office intact -- something, he said, would never have happened at home.


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