This is an extended version of a story that appears in ESPN The Magazine's March 31 MLB Preview Issue. Subscribe today!
STARTING FRIDAY, when Duke takes on Mercer in the NCAA tournament, Jabari Parker is on a mission to lead the Blue Devils to the Final Four and validate the awards he piled up this season, including the Wayman Tisdale Award, ACC freshman of the year and first team All-ACC.
But before that, the 19-year-old freshman, who averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season, might watch some "Fresh Prince" and listen to Kendrick Lamar. Here's our chat with Parker about all things off the court:
What was the last thing you Googled?
Some new sneakers, the Nike Dunk High Premium SB Diamond.
Who would play you in your biopic?
Will Smith. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is kind of my favorite TV show.
What is your most irrational fear?
Roaches. I'm a city kid. When I got to North Carolina, there were all these, like, huge roaches walking around.
What song is stuck in your head these days?
"Money Trees," by Kendrick Lamar, featuring Jay Rock.
What movie have you seen more than any other?
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The one with Jim Carrey.
What was the worst purchase you ever made?
I bought a fake Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers jersey on eBay. It was like $80.
If you were a talk-show host, whom would you want as your first guest?
Muhammad Ali. I really look up to him. And I'm named after him -- my middle name.
What was your most unrealistic New Year's resolution?
To be there for every autograph and picture. It's hard to be available for all the fans when your time is so in demand.
What was the best gift you ever received?
My parents. They were in my life and there for me all the time, so I'm grateful for them.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Going out, doing things for others, having a little "me time" and being around my family.
What do you like best about playing basketball?
Everything, from the basketball bouncing to high-fives to the camaraderie you build with your teammates. And just the game itself. I love it.
What do you like least about playing basketball?
Losing, of course. But people say losing builds character, and I guess it built my character when I was younger and lost a lot.