Dime Q&A: Seth Davis On Final Four & Why He’d Take Jabari Parker No. 1

With the Final Four just days away, Dime had the opportunity to speak with Seth Davis, renowned college basketball reporter for CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated. We discussed a range of issues, including highlights from March Madness, NBA Draft prospects and the league’s age-minimum.

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Dime: Can you talk a little bit about what you’re doing with Subway?
Seth Davis: I’m going to be appearing at a North Texas Subway with Jared, the Subway guy on Saturday. We will be serving Flatizzas!–New flatbread pizza that you can put whatever toppings you want on. And Subway also does my fresh takes video on SI.com so we will be doing that here too.

Dime: We’ve had an exciting NCAA tournament thus far; what’s been your biggest surprise?
SD: Kentucky and UConn are the two surprise teams that are here. I’m very surprised with Kentucky. I watched them all season long and they just didn’t seem to have the maturity. I think it is unfortunate when people try to use basketball deficiencies to make judgments about their character. I never believed that to be true. They just didn’t know how to win and it’s been a slow process to learn about themselves but I don’t think these players would come to Kentucky if they didn’t want to win. They could go anywhere and be in the lottery, but they came to Kentucky because they wanted to get to the Final Four. They’ve adopted a role change; now they’re chasing something instead of being the king of the hill. They’ve played much more inspired basketball and I’m happy for those kids.

Dime: Which game has been your favorite?
SD: I think the Kentucky – Wichita St. has been the best game of the tournament. There’s been some pretty crazy games, Stephen F. Austin – VCU game was pretty crazy but in terms of significance, drama and high-level of play, Kentucky – Wichita St. has been the game of the tournament and I think it really illustrates how much luck plays to get to the Final Four.

Dime: What did you think of Kevin Canevari‘s “Nae Nae” after Mercer’s win over Duke?
SD: That was one of the great moments. All these images of kids dancing and crazy stuff happening is such an important part of March Madness. I hope that reminds people these are just kids at the end of the day and for most of them, this is as good as it will get in terms of basketball so it’s great to see – and this is from a guy who went to Duke (Laughs).

Dime: What are your Final Four predictions?
SD: I’m guessing just like everyone else. I had Florida from the beginning, I’m going to stay with Florida. I do think Kentucky will beat Wisconsin. The key to beating Wisconsin is size and athleticism to defend Frank Kaminsky under the basket and behind the three-point line. Kentucky doesn’t just have one player who can do that, but four players who can – not including their starting center who is out with a foot injury. I like that matchup. And then I’ll take Florida over Kentucky in Round 2 of the SEC Championship.

Dime: Do you think Jabari Parker will opt for the NBA Draft or head back to Duke?
SD: I mean, when a guy has a chance to be a top-3 pick or a top-5 pick, I’m trained to believe that they go to the Draft. Jabari is a different kid; he wants to take his time. It’s not a question of whether he is ready or not, because both on and off the court he is ready. You don’t say that about many people his age but he’s different and it’s about what you want out of life. There are a lot of worse things than being a sophomore in college. I’m glad he’s taking his time to seriously consider.

Dime: If Parker does go back to school, he will be teaming up with highly-regarded prospects such as Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones. In your mind, do they emerge as favorites to win it all next season?
SD: Well, I think there’s a good chance Duke will be the preseason No.1 next year anyway and if Parker comes back, that would just erase all doubt. I’ve seen all those guys play, Grayson Allen and Justise Winslow too, and the thing about that class is that they all play different positions. It’s easy to see them fitting. It’ll be interesting.

Dime: If you’re an NBA GM, who do you take No. 1 overall?
SD: I would let my personnel dictate that. I think you have four guys who are all worthy of the selection – (Joel) Embiid, Parker, (Julius) Randle and (Andrew) Wiggins. I would lean toward Jabari, though. I think he’s demonstrated a capacity to score at an incredibly high-level in a lot of different ways. He has the most upside but listen, Embiid is 7-feet tall, Wiggins is an otherworldly athlete and Randle’s a beast. All those guys will play in All-Star Games and can be franchise pros at some point.

Dime: Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker; who will be the better NBA player in ten years?
SD: I’d lean toward Jabari. He’s more skilled and I think he’s more of an Alpha-male. Andrew Wiggins is more like Harrison Barnes – kind of asked him to carry things in college but I’m not sure if that fit his personality. Now, he gets to play off Stephen Curry. I see Wiggins in that regard, but he’s still really young.

Dime: Adam Silver has previously stated increasing the minimum age from 19-to-20 is toward the top of his priorities as NBA commissioner. What do you think of the potential change in ruling?
SD: Well first of all, Adam Silver said what David Stern has always said. I was a little surprised by how much news that created. Stern would always say he wanted the age minimum at 20 and the players union never wanted anything at all so they split the baby and made it 19. Now, the players’ union’s leadership is in flux and it is a little unclear.

If it was up to me, there would be no age minimum. I don’t like inhibiting young people to pursue their dreams and I’m not convinced it will go up. I don’t think we know enough about the new face of the players association because they will have the final say.

What do you think?

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