Jabari Parker picks Duke over Florida

USA TODAY Sports

Florida nearly scored a surprising basketball recruiting coup on Thursday by pulling Jabari Parker, the nation's No. 2 player. But Parker picked Duke instead.

Jabari Parker had been hard to read for his entire recruitment. On Thursday, despite rumors that he was leaning toward Florida at the last minute, he committed to Duke, one of his longtime front-runners and his parents' rumored favorite, over the Gators and Michigan State.

Parker, the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2013 behind Andrew Wiggins by most accounts, is a 6'8", 220-pound forward from Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, the same school that produced Windy City legends Benji Wilson and Derrick Rose. And Parker may end up being better than both of those players, with an extraordinarily advanced game for his age (Parker turns 18 on March 15, 2013) and the athleticism to take over games when necessary.

Florida would have loved to pair Parker with Kasey Hill and Chris Walker in what would have become the Gators' finest basketball recruiting class in history, but he'll head down to Durham, where he should be the best player on the floor in 2013-14 for Duke, the school that his parents reportedly favored.

Florida will be fine without Parker, as Hill and Walker comprise a top-10 recruiting class on their own, and will be joined by transfers Damontre Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith in one of the most accomplished groups of incoming players Florida has ever had. And the Gators are still in the running for Texas big man Julius Randle.

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