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High school hoops phenom Jabari Parker kept BYU in the running until Decision Day, but has announced that he will play his college basketball for Duke University.
PROVO — It wasn't like the handful of people gathered around the TV in the Wilkinson Center expected to hear Jabari Parker announce he would play basketball at BYU, but they would have liked to.
"(It's) kind of sad that he is not coming to BYU, but I am sure it is for his best interest. Duke is a great program, he gets to be with Coach K," said Hoku Ho, a student at BYU.
Even though Parker will never play in the Marriott Center, his official visit on campus last month caused a lot of buzz.
"I think it was cool. Everybody loved it," said Bailie Hicken, also a student at BYU. "I think it was cool he came out here and was considering it."
Most students believe Parker's time at Duke will be short, and he'll soon be headed to the NBA. Some think, as a Mormon athlete, Parker use whatever time he spends there to bring attention to the LDS Church, similar to what Manti Teo has at Notre Dame.
"He will give us a good name for BYU here; and even though he is at a different school, we'll support him," said Jeffery Whatcott, another BYU student.
As a top national prospect, BYU fans know the 17-year-old high school star was under a lot of pressure.
"It was a tough decision, but for him I think he made the right one," said BYU student Ritchie Pelton.
Parker made his choice known Thursday afternoon in a nationally-televised event at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, where the 6'8", 220 lb. star has played on three consecutive state championship teams. In addition to Duke and BYU, Parker was also considering Michigan State, Florida and Stanford.
Having already made multiple unofficial visits to BYU, Parker made his official campus stop in late November, inspiring a student-made music video and fan-organized T-shirt distribution effort that encouraged Parker to pick Provo as his college destination.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parker has a natural tie to the LDS Church-affiliated institution, but he and his family made clear that the Cougars were no courtesy call; head coach Dave Rose's six consecutive 25-win/NCAA Tournament seasons, the national success of Jimmer Fredette and relationships with the BYU staff were favorable factors that Parker weighed before making his decision.
Today's announcement was a verbal commitment; the National Letter of Intent spring signing opens on April 17, 2013.