When Duke faces Arizona in Madison Square Garden on Friday night, imagine Mike Krzyzewski telling Sean Miller not to focus on freshman Jabari Parker too much.
Better yet, imagine Krzyzewski rationing Parker's touches on offense because other players such as second-leading scorer Rodney Hood warrant attention. It would never happen. Nor should it.
Krzyzewski essentially suggested the equivalent of that with the media when he lamented what he considered to be lopsided coverage of elite freshmen, including Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon. His concern was that only one narrative was taking over college basketball when there are myriad stories.
Krzyzewski might cringe at the promotion of freshmen, but he has a front-row seat every game to one reason it’s happening.
Parker, like Wiggins, Randle and Gordon, is an exceptional talent. The Blue Devils would be an average team without him.
The freshman forward from Chicago leads Duke with 23.6 points per game. He has nearly twice as many rebounds as his next teammate in averaging 8.7 boards. He leads with 12 blocked shots, is second with nine steals and third with 15 assists. He shoots 60.9 percent from 3-point range and leads the team in made 3s.
That Parker also leads the team with 20 turnovers is indicative of how much he has the ball in his hands. His production has matched the considerable hype that preceded him onto the floor.
Duke could use a few of its other players becoming as consistent as Parker.
Despite averaging 19.9 points per game, Hood came up woefully short in the Blue Devils’ biggest game so far. The sophomore, plagued by foul trouble, went 3-of-8 for 11 points and had five turnovers to match his five assists in the loss to Kansas.
Sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon, who finished last season strong, has yet to find his groove offensively. His production has dropped from last season, going from 11.6 points per game to 7.0, and he's shooting 28.6 percent from 3-point range versus 37.1 percent last season.
Parker's impact on the Blue Devils is undeniable. So too will continue to be the attention he receives because of it.