NBCSports.com National Freshman of the Year: Jabari Parker, Duke
Jabari Parker’s season, as a whole, was quite impressive. He finished the year averaging 19.2 points and 9.0 boards while shooting 48.7% from the floor and 37.1% from three while leading Duke to a top ten ranking and, potentially, a top three seed in the NCAA tournament when the brackets are released.
What made Parker’s season so special, however, was how he was able to adjust the way that he was playing in the middle of the year.
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Early on in the season, Parker couldn’t miss from the perimeter. It seemed like every jump he took was destined for the bottom of the net, but as defenses adjusted and he was guarded by bigger, more athletic defenders, settling for step-backs and challenged threes just wasn’t working. That’s why he had that five-game slump right around the turn of the calendar.
Down the stretch, however, Parker made a concerted effort to get to the rim, whether it was in transition, in the half court or in the post. In his last 14 games, there was only one game when he didn’t notch at least six free throws attempts. He also embraced becoming the team’s best defensive rebounder. He had 10 double-doubles during that same stretch -- including the last six games of the regular season -- and never finished with fewer that seven boards.
What Parker can do on a basketball court didn’t change all that drastically over the course of the season, but his ability to tweak how he played was the difference-maker for Duke this season.