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Celtics

Duke’s Jabari Parker Considering Staying In School

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
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Jabari Parker (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Jabari Parker (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — If you’re a Celtics fan, you may want to take a seat and grab an empty brown paper bag.

There is a report that Duke’s star freshman Jabari Parker may opt to return to school next year rather than declare himself for June’s NBA draft.

Deep breaths. Inhale, and exhale. Inhale, and exhale.

Everyone OK?

While the Celtics have been competitive for the most part of their 51-loss (and counting) 2013-14 season, there was always a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for Boston fans in the fact that players like Parker, Kansas’s Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, or Kentucky’s Julius Randle would be waiting to be drafted come May.

But according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, Parker and Embiid are both weighing their options, and considering going back to school for another year (start that breathing thing again, Celtics fans).

“With Parker, so much so that several scouts are claiming he’s coming back to school,” Ford said in a recent online NBA chat. “But I think that’s premature.”

College players have until April 27 to declare for the NBA draft. Ford would understand Embiid’s potential return to the Jayhawks, given the unknown surrounding his back injury and the season or two he’ll likely need to adapt to the NBA game, but he says Parker could be an NBA starter immediately.

“Parker is really NBA ready. He could obviously improve if he stayed, but he’s a NBA starter from Day One,” said Ford. “He’ll get minutes and playing against the best competition is the best way to improve. The only good reason for him to stay is because he loves college, wants to lead Duke to a NCAA Championship and is OK just waiting. But as far as development goes, the NBA is his best option.”

“I think both will probably declare at the end of the day, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they stayed either,” said Ford.

Parker was a stud at Duke this season, averaging 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He scored 20 points or more 17 times during the season, though his collegiate career may have ended with a 4-for-14 showing in Duke’s upset loss to Mercer in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That tourney loss could very well be the reason Parker ends up back at school.

While it may feel slightly selfish (and by slightly we mean extremely), Celtics fans have to hope Parker’s days at Duke are over.

We don’t know where the Celtics will finish in the NBA lottery race (they currently own the fifth-worst record with eight games to go entering Wednesday night’s game in Washington), but having either Parker or Embiid out of the mix would put pretty hefty damper on their off-season plans if they centered around grabbing a franchise-altering talent in the draft. Not only would that player come off the board, but  the crop of talent would weaken greatly, making a would-be meaningful fourth or fifth overall pick much less flattering.

But it’s still early, and the kids have 25 days make their decisions. A lot can change over the course of three weeks, so keep breathing, Celtics fans.

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