Over the next few days, Jabari Parker has a decision to make.
The Duke freshman was in Oklahoma City, where he was presented with the Wayman Tisdale Award on Monday as the nation’s top freshman at the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
A coincidence on the trip gave Parker another voice to consider as he decides by Wednesday whether or not to declare for the NBA Draft.
On Parker’s flight to Oklahoma City on Monday was Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, who was last year’s Tisdale Award winner. Smart decided to stay for his sophomore year and had an up-and-down season.
Smart, though, continues to say he doesn’t regret coming back.
The two talked before, after and during the flight.
“He just told me congratulations and do whatever feels more comfortable,” Parker said. “I think he was pretty comfortable with what he did and what he chose this year. For a lot of people, that incident at Texas Tech overshadows that but there’s a lot we don’t know so we should stay out of it.”
Last week, The Oklahoman asked Smart what he would tell Parker if he got the chance.
“It’s up to you,” Smart said. “A lot of people tried to persuade my decision to come back. A lot of people criticized me. The same people who love you are the same people who are going to criticize you. They’re going to criticize you each and every way they can.
“It’s sad to see and it’s bad to say, but that’s how it is.”
Parker will meet with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski when he returns to Durham, N.C., and is planning on making his announcement Wednesday.
“I think that I’ll probably put myself on a bulletin board and just point out my pros and cons and if my cons outweigh the pros, then I’ll go the other way.”
Parker grew up in Chicago and admits the draw of NBA money is tantalizing, but he can’t let that cloud his thinking either.
“Money is never an issue in my case,” Parker said. “My family isn’t doing the best, but they’re doing enough to help me improve.
“The big deciding factor is where can I max out my potential — where can I improve as a basketball player and live a comfortable life.”
Parker averaged 19.3 points, second in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He led the league in rebounding with 8.8 per game.
But he struggled in the NCAA Tournament as Duke was upset by Mercer.
The Blue Devils figure to be a Final Four favorite with or without Parker, adding a class that includes another Chicago native, Jahlil Okafor.
Parker said he’s talked to family, coaches, others in the athletic department at Duke and his friends as he tries to decide what’s best for him.
“Different perspectives are important,” Parker said.
Smart said he’d tell Parker to be careful who he listened to.
“You’ve got to find the right people to lean on,” Smart said. “You’ve got to know who they are. ...You’ve just got to stay focused and know that no matter what anybody says, ultimately it comes down to what you want and what you say. You have the last say, because it’s your life, not theirs.”