Duke Star Freshman Opts Out Of Basketball Season

Duke men's basketball forward Jalen Johnson announced he will forgo the remainder of his freshman season and declare for the 2021 NBA Draft.

Johnson said on Monday he is prioritizing his health ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft.

"I appreciate everything about my time at Duke," Johnson said in a statement. "Coach K, my teammates and the program have been nothing but supportive throughout this season, especially during the rehab of my foot injury."

Johnson played in 13 games with eight starts and was third on the team in scoring (11.2 ppg) and second in rebounding (6.1 rpg).

He opened his career with a 19-point, 19-rebound effort versus Coppin State on 8-of-8 shooting, which set a Duke freshman record for most points in a game on 100% shooting. 

"This was not easy but we feel it's best for my future," Johnson said. "I have nothing but love for the Brotherhood and thank my teammates and everyone associated with the program. Duke will always have a special place in my heart and will always be a part of me."

After missing three games with a foot injury, he returned to play in the game at Pitt and made an impact, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 boards, seven assists, no turnovers and four blocked shots.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said Johnson deserves to be fully healthy for the upcoming NBA Draft.

"While we are encouraged by what we are seeing medically for Jalen's future, we believe this decision is in his best interest," Coach K said. "We are ultimately careful with every one of our players and will continue to support Jalen as he progresses toward his goal of playing professional basketball."

Duke men's basketball has six games remaining this season — the Blue Devils are 8-8 overall and 6-6 in conference play.

Stadium's Jeff Goodman reports it could be more than just the previous injury keeping the freshman from finishing the season. Goodman said there have been off-court issues between Johnson's camp and Duke for months.

Johnson, a projected top-10 pick, will wrap up his career at Duke averaging 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks, and 21.4 minutes in 13 games.

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