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Jabari Parker is headed to the NBA

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MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Jabari Parker announced his intentions to head to the NBA on Thursday afternoon, releasing a statement through Sports Illustrated.

Parker was a first-team All-American in his one season at Duke and is expected to be a top three pick in the NBA Draft. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 boards this season despite going through a slump during the middle of the season. Parker’s as versatile of a scorer as you’ll find at this level — he overpowers smaller defenders in the paint, he beats bigger defenders off the dribble, he’s got three-point range and he can dunk in traffic over shotblockers — but the question mark with him is on the defensive end of the floor. He’s got a ways to go before he can be considered above-average defensively.

Believe it or not, there was actually some doubt as to whether or not Parker would actually turn pro. He’s a different dude, and I mean that as a compliment. He’s quite religious, he’s an excellent student and he’s the kind of curious mind that values his education and experience at Duke as much as he would value the chance to make millions at the NBA level. It’s clear in the lengthy statement that he released on Thursday, in which he discusses his intentions to return to school and earn his degree — “I was an honor student when I arrived at Duke, and I’d like to graduate as one,” he wrote — and is decision not to go on a Mormon mission as much as he does he thought on becoming a professional basketball player.

In the end, here is what Parker said determined his choice to enter the NBA Draft:

Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player?

Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court?

The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA.

There is something else. My father, Sonny, played in the NBA. I know firsthand that the career span of a pro basketball player is finite. The lucky ones play until their mid-30s. With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college. It’s ironic, but true.

Duke will be just fine without Parker. They add a loaded recruiting class, headlined by Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, and return guys like Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson and Quinn Cook. They were No. 2 in our Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 with the assumption that Parker, and Rodney Hood, were bound for the league.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.

AP POLL: Villanova climbs to No. 1 in the country.

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Like the Coaches Poll, Villanova found themselves No. 1 in the AP Poll during the regular season for the first time in the history of the program.

And like the Coaches Poll, there isn’t much in the way of a consensus when it comes to who is the No. 1 team, as there are six teams that received No. 1 votes in the poll this week.

[NEW PODCAST]

[LATEST BRACKETOLOGY]

The biggest shock to me?

The No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25, Iowa, received just 11 first place votes and is ranked fourth in the AP Poll.

They were ranked fifth in the Coaches Poll.

Can we get Fran McCaffery the love they deserve?

Here is the rest of the AP Poll:

1. Villanova (20-3, 32 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (21-3, 13)
3. Oklahoma (19-3, 7)
4. Iowa (19-4, 11)
5. Xavier (21-2)
6. Kansas (19-4, 1)
7. Virginia (19-4, 1)
8. Michigan State (20-4)
9. North Carolina (19-4)
10. West Virginia (19-4)
11. Oregon (18-4)
12. Miami (FL) (18-4)
13. Louisville (19-4)
14. Iowa State (17-6)
15. Texas A&M (18-5)
16. SMU (20-2)
17. Arizona (19-5)
18. Purdue (19-5)
19. Dayton (19-3)
20. Providence (18-6)
21. Baylor (17-6)
22. Kentucky (17-6)
23. USC (18-5)
24. Texas (16-7)
25. Wichita State (17-6)

DROPPED OUT: No. 22 Indiana, No. 25 South Carolina
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 USC, No. 24 Texas