There are so many ways to sum up Jabari Parker's amazing night here. He outplayed Kansas's Andrew Wiggins, the most hyped freshman in many years. He outshined Kentucky's Julius Randle, a contender for the No. 1 pick in the next NBA draft. His Duke coach, Mike Krzyzewski, said Parker was "sensational," and LeBron James (presumably watching both Wiggins and Parker) tweeted "GM's wish the draft was tomorrow," and ... well, it was incredible on so many levels, but the best summary of Parker's night came from Parker himself. I asked him: How would you grade your performance? He said: "C-minus." C-minus! Parker had just scored 27 points on just 18 shots in a variety of ridiculous ways, grabbed nine rebounds, added two steals and a block, and only committed two turnovers. It was the second game of his career, in his hometown, against one of the top five teams in the country. Parker was unfazed. And if you want to understand how difficult it is to choose one guy as the No. 1 prospect in college basketball, start there, with Jabari Parker's grade for his marvelous performance: C-minus. * * * Andrew Wiggins. Julius Randle. Jabari Parker. You can't go wrong with any of them ... except that, when you pick one, you pass on the other two. And they each showed, in their own way Tuesday night, that they will be stars in the pros. Randle, the Kentucky power forward, went first. He may have had the most difficult assignment of the three freshmen, because he had to face a veteran team, Michigan State, that is probably the best in the country at muscle-on-muscle defense. He was also the only one who was being held back by his own coach. I don't think John Calipari wanted to lose the game, but he was more OK with a loss than Tom Izzo, Bill Self or Krzyzewski. I doubt Calipari will ever admit this, unless he decides to write it in his next book, or one of the four books after that. But he needs his players to understand that playing together matters. Experience, toughness, listening to your coach ... all of that matters. And he can't prove to his freshmen simply by saying it in film sessions. Before the game, Calipari said it was "not fair" for his freshmen to play a team as experienced and great as Michigan State. This was funny, because nobody made Calipari recruit a new team every year -- he chooses to do it -- and because a few weeks ago, Calipari declared, "We don't just play college basketball. We are college basketball." But the man knew what he was doing. He jacked up the expectations as high as he could ("we ARE college basketball!") then warned everybody that his players they weren't ready for those expectations, and now he has a loss to prove it. This will help Kentucky this season. There will be no more undefeated talk, no more No. 1 ranking for a while. The thing is, Kentucky almost beat Michigan State anyway, for one reason: Randle. He is a beast. Michigan State's Branden Dawson, who did an admirable job on Randle at times, said afterward, "I'm sore all around ... He's strong. I didn't really think he was that strong. He is just tough." Randle is so strong that his high-fives frighten me. Michigan State assistant Dwayne Stephens said Randle reminds him of a more athletic Zach Randolph.
Jabari Parker, Julius Randle or Andrew Wiggins? All three are amazing
SI | Nov 13