Duke's Parker gets award and history lesson

Mar. 20, 2014 @ 06:25 PM

So many awards have come Jabari Parker’s way at such a young age it would be easy for him to them to all start running together.

Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel took time this week to ensure Parker knew the significance of his latest award and Parker is glad he did.

Parker was voted the winner of the Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation’s top freshman basketball player by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association

“The award named after him is a little bit more important because I knew the significance of it,” Parker said.

The Tisdale Award added to an already celebrated career that’s seen him named Illinois Mr. Basketball and Gatorade player of the year twice while in high school at Chicago’s Simeon Academy. This season at Duke, he’s been a named first-team all-American by the USBWA and The Sporting News, a first-team all-ACC player by the coaches and the media and the ACC’s freshman of the year.

On Tuesday when news of the Tisdale Award came, Capel told Parker about his experiences with Tisdale when Capel coached Oklahoma.

“Jeff Capel told me what a great guy he was and how he helped out Blake Griffin at Oklahoma,” Parker said.

Said Capel, “Wayman is one of the best ever. I wanted to make sure (Jabari) knew who Wayman was through his accomplishments on the court, off the court away from basketball and also what a great guy he was.”

During Griffin’s freshman season, he wanted to wear the No. 23 that Tisdale wore when he was a three-time all-American and three-time Big 8 Conference player of the year. Capel asked Tisdale permission and had Griffin call Tisdale as well. Permission was granted and Griffin wore that number until leaving to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.

“More than anything what I wanted was to get those two guys linked up” Capel said. “I was a good college player. Wayman was one of the best ever. I thought Blake could be a good college player and I thought Wayman could be a great mentor to Blake.”

Of course Tisdale wouldn’t have even worn that Oklahoma uniform had he not made a key decision. Georgetown offered Tisdale a scholarship that would have paired him with Patrick Ewing on the same front line.

Instead, Tisdale stayed in his home state and played for the Sooners from 1983-85.

All of those things impressed Parker and made his being honored with the award a little more special.

“The award named after him is a little bit more important because I knew the significance of it,” Parker said. “How great of a freshman he was. Going to a university that wasn’t really popular then.”

In 1985, as a junior, Tisdale led Oklahoma to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. In 2009, his final year with the Sooners, Griffin did the same thing.

On Friday, Parker will play his first NCAA Tournament game, hoping to at least get Duke to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season.

That’s all Parker is worried about now.

“Getting the award was great,” Parker said. “Now I have to move on and go after what my No. 1 goal.”