Although BYU fan’s hearts are broken, the high school star made the right choice
The idea alone had BYU fans jumping for joy; the top high school prospect in the nation playing in Provo. It would be something that had never happened before. Yes, BYU has had some basketball stars. Nobody will ever forget the Danny Ainge glory years, or Jimmermania. Neither of them, though, were as highly touted coming out of high school as Jabari Parker is. Jimmer Fredette was not even ranked in the ESPN.com top 100 in high school. No, this would have been a first for basketball at BYU, a football dominated school. The fans were ready, but Jabari Parker, apparently, was not. This was a wise decision by the young basketball star.
Jabari Parker took the more conventional route and chose maybe the most prestigious basketball university in the country, with one of the best basketball coaches of all time. He chose Duke Univerisity with coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski. Duke is accustomed to having high school stars attend their school. In fact, Duke has had at least one player ranked in the ESPN.com top 15 high school ranking six of the last seven years. Jabari will have high expectations at Duke, but that is always the case at Duke. This is exactly why Parker was wise in not choosing BYU. BYU fans would have put unreal expectations on this young man. They would have expected him to win National Player of the Year, bring back Jimmermania, and lead the team to the final four. With Parker’s talent level, this would not have been out of the question, but it would have too much. He would have been expected to transform a pretty good basketball program into a powerhouse, and do it instantly.
BYU fans are known for being very passionate, at times too passionate. BYU fans are quick to heap praise and love a player for helping their teams succeed. They are just as quick, though, at turning on that player if he stops performing. The perfect example of this is the fans relationship with the past two BYU quarterbacks. In 2010, Riley Nelson started the year at quarterback and struggled. When he got hurt and was replaced by Jake Heaps. Jake Heaps was a freshman who the previous year was ranked the number one high school quarterback in the nation. The fans fell in love with him as he guided the team to a 6-4 record to end the season. The fan base was dreaming of the Steve Young, Ty Detmer days with their new young quarterback. The next year, though, the fans quickly turned on Heaps when he struggled to start the year. Heaps was booed relentlessly and the fans wanted Riley Nelson to start. Eventually Heaps was benchd and Nelson led a late season resurgence, and BYU fans were once again in love. Jake Heaps eventually transferred. This season though, BYU fans booed Nelson, their hero from the year before, as he struggled and fans once again called for the backup.
Jeffrey R. Holland once gave a speech about this attitude of BYU fans. He gave the speech at BYU after the fans had booed Robbie Bosco, one of he most succesful quarterbacks in BYU history, in a game duing th 1985 season. Bosco had led the Cougars to their only National Championship in 1984, also finishing third in the Heisman trophy voting. It was the following season, AFTER these amazing accomplishments that Bosco got booed by his own fans during a game against the then-ranked fourth team in the nation, Air Force. Elder Holland spoke of how he feels know one should ever be booed, but admitted he was shocked that someone who was as accomplished as Bosco was could be booed after all hat he had done for the fans and the school. Elder Holland was touching on a greater point; BYU fans expect to much, and really are only pleased if you meet THEIR expectations.
With all this in mind, Duke was the right choice for Jabari Parker. If he does not live up to the hype, he will still have his critics and nay-sayers, but he will not receive as much scrutiny and animosity as he would here. Expectations at BYU would have been too high, and that could have only led to problems for the number two recruit in the nation.