With the hype surrounding this year’s crop of freshmen in college basketball, the landscape of the game is completely tilted towards the new faces on the scene. Just a week prior, we were all treated to a spectacular showcase featuring four of the most prestigious programs in the sport’s history as Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke, and Kansas graced the floor of the United Center for the annual Champions Classic.
While the games gave fans reasons to look forward to an exciting upcoming season, the takeaway was more about the amazing new talent that was on display. The most anticipated of the group was Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, who has been touted as the most talented prospect since the likes of LeBron James. However, it was another frosh who, in my opinion, placed his name at the very top of the list. Jabari Parker, a 6-foot-8 do-everything swingman out of Chicago, is proving that the hype surrounding his skills is no fluke. Through his first three games of the season Parker is averaging 23.3 points per game to go along with 8.3 rebounds. His double-double (21 pts, 10 rebs) against Florida Atlantic this past weekend marked the first time under Coach K that a freshman had scored 20 or more points in his first three games.
But before we jump the gun and anoint Mr. Parker as the best freshman player to step into Cameron Indoor Stadium, let us be reminded of perhaps the greatest Dukie Frosh, Johnny Dawkins. Dawkins, a Washington D.C. native who relished the opportunity to compete against "close to home" Maryland, happens to have three of the top ten freshman scoring performances in school history.
– 31 points vs Maryland (January 15, 2983)
– 29 points vs Stetson (February 16, 1983)
– 28 points vs Maryland (February 21, 1983)
Every coach remembers their first impact-recruit, and Dawkins was it for Mike Krzyzewski. He started it all for Coach K. And although in 1983 the Blue Devils finished with a record of 11-17, Dawkins was the spark that ignited a career path of wins in Durham. He would go on to score over 500 points for Duke during his freshman season, and the all-around talented player would finish his career with averages of 19.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. He left Duke in 1986 as the school's all-time leading scorer and National Player of the Year.
Of course no one is expecting Parker to stick around and compile career statistics that will rival that of Dawkins, but the 2013-14 season is a wide-open discussion of who will have had the most impact in their initial season when it's all said and done. For now, we've only seen three games and should not get ahead of ourselves. Oh who are we kidding, everyone loves to make comparisons and this one is no different. We can sit back and enjoy one of the most talented players in the country, just don’t forget that the blueprint started 30 years ago.