BOSTON (CBS) — The upcoming NBA Draft class got a little stronger on Thursday morning, as star forward Jabari Parker announced he is leaving Duke for the NBA.

Parker, who averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game for the Blue Devils last season as a freshman, said it was a tough decision to leave school in a piece written for, but he’s always dreamed of playing in the NBA like his father, Sonny.

The 19-year-old will get a chance to do just that next season, as he is predicted to be a top three pick in June’s draft — if not the top pick overall.

Parker scored 20 points or more 17 times during the season for Duke, though his collegiate career ended with a 4-for-14 showing in the Blue Devils’  upset loss to Mercer in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Because of that loss, Parker put strong consideration into returning to school, but in the end he decided the NBA will give him the best opportunity to grow both on and off the court.

“Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player?,” Parker wrote. “Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court?”

“The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA.”

Parker joins Kansas’ Joel Embidd and Andrew Wiggins, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon on a long list of underclassmen to enter the draft.

This is good news for fans of the Boston Celtics, who finished the NBA season tied with the Utah Jazz for the fourth-worst record in the league. They have roughly a 30% chance to land a top three pick, though the best odds are for the fifth or sixth pick.



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