When Jabari Parker hears his named called Thursday night at the NBA Draft—whether Cleveland chooses him No. 1 or he goes to Milwaukee with the No. 2 pick—Parker will not be questioning whether he is physically ready to play basketball. The 19 year-old has been prepping for this moment his entire life.
So what’s he been doing to prepare? Well, he’s not strength training.
“A lot of yoga,” Parker said. “I’ve been doing a lot of that and conditioning. I stay away from strength because I don’t want my muscles to get too exerted. It’s all about the recovery process.”
You would think Parker would want to enter his first season as a professional basketball player as strong as possible. But even more important than that, the 6-foot-8 rookie-to-be wants to be healthy and injury-free. That means maintaining the strength Parker built in the one year he played at Duke University, where he was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and was selected a first-team NCAA All-American by the Associated Press.
Parker isn’t just focusing on recovery. He began revamping his diet in college, starting by eliminating fast food. He also needed to monitor a vitamin D deficiency by taking supplements and adding more dairy to his nutrition plan protect his bones.
Parker and Andrew Wiggins are expected to be the first two players selected in Thursday’s draft held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Both were joined at a pre-Draft event in New York City along with other potential top picks. Among them was 2014 Naismith Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year Doug McDermott, who is projected to go in the top 10 to 15.
McDermott, who played all four years at Creighton and led the nation in scoring last season, agreed with Parker’s approach to lay off the strength training before Draft Night, knowing that there will tons of basketball to be played starting with the NBA Summer League next month.
The three-time All-American sharpshooter has taken on a Paleo-inspired diet in preparation for his rookie campaign. He said he’s cut out bread and pasta and instead concentrates on lean meats, salad, greens, and fruit. “It’s good,” he said, “but it’s hard.”