In what was probably the least surprising news during the week following the NCAA championship game, Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor will enter the NBA Draft.
Duke made the announcement in a release on Thursday.
Okafor, after being part of the Blue Devils’ team that won the school’s fifth championship, will now be part of the gaggle of “one-and-dones” that have come out of the Duke program.
Per ESPN’s reporting, players on the list comprising of Corey Maggette, Luol Deng, Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers and Jabari Parker, were all selected in the fist 13 picks of the NBA Draft.
“What a great decision! This is a tremendous opportunity for Jahlil and he has earned it,” Coach K said in a release. “Obviously, he has done an incredible job here at Duke and he will always be a part of our Duke basketball family. We could not be happier for he and his family.”
Yes, whispers of Okafor entering the draft reved up early in the 2014-15 campaign.
The towering center ended his Duke career averaging 17.7 points per game with 8.5 rebounds and a 66.4 field goal percentage. He also became the first freshman in ACC history to win Player Of The Year, in addition to making pretty much every other honors list in the NCAA hoops world.
But there are questions surrounding the Chicago native’s choice to forgo the rest of his collegiate career to go pro.
CollegeBasketballTalk mentions that it is still hard to forsee how high up Okafor will go in the draft, especially with fellow Duke studs Justice Winslow and Tyus Jones yet to annouce whether they will declare or not.
The other question looks beyond the draft: How Okafor will fair overall in the NBA. Taking away tthe big numbers that he put up, he did have a tendency of fading in clutch games, including the first regular season match against UNC as well as early in tournament play. But heck, maybe the grind to lift Duke to its fifth championship — which was no easy feat — has given the 19-year-old a good enough push to carry into the bigs.
The 2015 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 25 and will be broadcast on ESPN.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports