NBA Draft: Will Jabari Parker follow in Grant Hill's footsteps?

Jabari Parker

With the NBA draft less than two weeks away, there are some intriguing similarities between the two ex-Duke stars.

Jabari Parker is expected to be taken in the top three picks of the NBA Draft on June 26, and if he is, the former Duke forward will be taking a well-trodden path.

In 1994, the Blue Devils also had an all-American swingman taken at the top of the draft, as Grant Hill was selected third overall by the Detroit Pistons.

The similarities between the two players are intriguing, and occasionally eerie. Hill was considered an explosive scorer with an NBA-ready body - a player that could make a big impression as soon as he enters the league. Sound familiar?

Their measurements are almost identical - both stand at 6' 8'', with Parker the slightly heavier of the two at 235 lbs to Hill's 225.

And in the first marquee of his college career against Kansas, Parker unleashed an alley-oop dunk that was almost a picture-perfect imitation of Hill's legendary slam in 1991 against the same team.

There are differences between the forwards - Hill was the more talented defender and perhaps the better athlete, while Parker is a more savvy scorer than Hill was coming out of college. However, the 19-year-old would do well to emulate his predecessor's production in his first year in the NBA.

Hill shared Rookie of the Year honours with Jason Kidd in 1994 after averaging 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists, and those marks are certainly not out of Parker's reach.

Hill himself praised his fellow Blue Devil's abilities in March, saying: "He is as close to being an NBA prospect right now as you’re going to find in college. He is the real deal."

One thing Parker will not wish to duplicate is the misfortune Hill suffered throughout his career with injuries. After cementing his place as one of the league's best young players, he suffered crippling ankle injury in the 1999-2000 season which prevented him fulfilling his potential as the NBA's biggest star since Michael Jordan.

Parker appears ready for the NBA, and his ability to compete physically with the league's seasoned veterans could see him better Hill's draft position, particularly if fellow prospect Joel Embiid's back injury remains a major concern for teams.

Whether Parker goes first, second or third, the comparisons with Hill will undoubtedly persist throughout his career, and it will be fascinating to see whether he can take his predecessor's place as the most successful NBA small forward to have ever played for the Blue Devils.