The Milwaukee Bucks were looking for more than a primary contributor when they made the call on the second pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Bucks were looking for a high-character player from a great program around whom they could build a winning culture for years to come. The player they targeted early on was Duke’s Jabari Parker, and when the Cleveland Cavaliers made Andrew Wiggins the top overall pick the Bucks knew they were getting their man.
The Bucks made no secret of their interest in Parker, even telling him he was their choice if the Cavaliers didn’t grab him first.
“I’ve got some comfort level with them, especially with them just telling me ‘We want you.’ I didn’t get really any answers from the Cavs, so I’m just going with what I’m certain with,” Parker said prior to the draft. “I got just that answer, that fair assessment. They sat with me and said, ‘We’re going to go with you.’ ”
Parker’s father, Sonny, played in the NBA, so Parker comes to the table with a pretty good understanding of the league. Since 1990 his dad has been a youth foundation director, giving Parker a solid understanding of what it means to work hard and serve others. There are just a few of the reasons that the Bucks were interested in Parker, and that’s before mentioning his accomplishments on the hardwoods.
Parker’s high school team, Simean Career Academy, won four straight state championships and as a result he was named the National High School Player of the Year. After his freshman year at Duke he was named a Consensus First-Team All-American, the USBWA National Freshman of the Year, and the runner-up for the John R. Wooden Award.
The Milwaukee Bucks needed someone who could quickly turn around their franchise, and they got just what they needed in Parker.
“They’re a young team and I feel like I can contribute right off the bat,” Parker said on draft night. “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. This might bite me in the butt years from now, but right now I just want to stick with whoever’s rolling with me.”
More than anything, Parker wants to be remembered as a player who lead a once-proud but struggling team back to the playoffs and beyond.
“They really did have a lot of success [in the past], especially in the days with Lew Alcindor,” said Parker. “In the ’90s when they made the playoffs with Sam Cassell. I just want to be remembered as one of them, too, since I’m going to the Bucks.
As for which position he will play, Parker is open to whatever head coach Larry Drew and his staff throw at him.
“Yeah, I’m just trying to continue that role that I was given by Coach K, just being a complete basketball player, whether they want me at the two, the one, the five, being able to fit in all slots and being able to contribute in the best ways.”
That’s music to the ear of the anxiously waiting Milwaukee Bucks.
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