Jabari Parker of Chicago has long been the #1 rated prospect in the 2013 class, Sports Illustrated which featured him on the cover recently tabbed him the best prep prospect since LeBron James. Sitting out the rest of the summer with a foot injury, Parker will have some serious competition for the top spot by power forward Julius Randle.
Randle has been dazzling this summer with his strong, versatile game. Randle stands 6-9 and 240 pounds, yet he can handle the basketball like a point guard. It’s impossible to compare Randle’s game to any prep playing the game today, it’s also very difficult to find a good comparison when looking at any player for any year. Lamar Odom with a stronger post game and maybe not quite as much range, is about the closest I’ve been able to come.
Randle is a dynamic rebounder, a terrific defender, a tremendous athlete who can not only run the break with the best of them, he can lead the attack like a guard. He has developed a very nice post up game but is best when facing the basket and attacking. Randle’s game is very fundamentally sound and well rounded.
Parker is an extremely gifted player without any big flaw in his game. An extremely polished all around player, Parker has the look of a player ready to come in and dominate. Parker’s year by year improvement has been marveled by scouts. Parker can score and create for others anywhere on the court. He’s extremely explosive and likes to create off the dribble most in the half court. He’s terrific in the open court and likes to get out and run the break.
I love Randle’s game because it’s so uniquely dominating, but I still believe Parker is the better player. I’m not sure he can be more valuable however. When I’m evaluating players as potential Tar Heels one thing I like to think about is the positional value that player will bring to Chapel Hill or wherever he ends up.
Perimeter players are a lot easier to come by than a versatile, polished big man like Randle. Parker may end up being the player with the most talent and he will probably score more at the next level than Randle will. But if I’m being asked who I think would be more effective for Carolina, it’s Julius Randle.
As for the rankings, it doesn’t really matter who’s #1 and who’s #2. Both players are great talents, and no, I don’t think Parker will get bumped down in favor of Randle. It makes for great debate but ultimately the recruiting services that make up these lists aren’t going to go back on their previous rankings after SI just crowed Parker the best since “King James”.