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Duke's Jabari Parker declares for NBA draft

Duke forward Jabari Parker on Thursday declared for the 2014 NBA draft.

"The time has come for me to join the best basketball league in the world," wrote Parker in an essay for SI.com. "Today I sent my letter of intent to the NBA. That makes it official -- my days as a Duke basketball player are over."

The 6-foot-8 Parker joins a talented group of prospects projected to fill many of the top-10 selections in June's draft, including Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Arizona's Aaron Gordon, Indiana's Noah Vonleh, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Syracuse's Tyler Ennis, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Michigan State's Gary Harris as well as international talents Dante Exum of Australia and Dario Saric of Croatia.

Kentucky forward Julius Randle, a potential top-five pick, has yet to declare.

In 35 games as a freshman with Duke, Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds a game while shooting 50.3% from the field.

Parker, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also clarified that he will not go on a two-year Mormon mission.

"After talking with my family, my local church leaders and a couple close friends I'm at peace with my decision to forego a mission for now and join the NBA," he wrote. "I don't consider myself an exception to the rule. At this point in my life I know this is the right decision."

The Lakers head into the May 20 NBA draft lottery in sixth position, with a 21.5% chance at climbing to a top-three pick, and a 6.3% chance of landing the top pick, 7.1% the second and 8.1% the third.

Parker is unlikely to still be available if the Lakers have the sixth overall selection.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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