Paolo Banchero Felt ‘Like A Zoo Animal’ Playing At Duke

Videos by OutKick

If you’re a projected NBA lottery draft pick, you’re probably a big deal on your college campus.

The first overall pick of this year’s draft, Duke Blue Devils’ Paolo Banchero, attested to being frequently followed on campus, noting that it went a bit too far at times.

Banchero spoke on his one-year campaign at Duke, admitting that he appreciated his time at Durham while also feeling like a “zoo animal” due to the repeated intrusions on privacy he experienced.

Banchero Felt Caged At Duke

The young player said students recorded his every move and that unfamiliar Duke students would arrive at this dorm to introduce their families to him.


“Sometimes it’d feel like you was, like, a zoo animal or something, bro,” Banchero said, speaking with teammate RJ Hampton on The Young Basketball Person Podcast (points for originality).

“They would like, on God, in class, you would see them over there whispering about you. Like, staring at you.”

Banchero added,

“I open my door and it’s a mom, dad, their daughter who goes to Duke and, like, they’re little brother,” Banchero recalled. “And, I’m just like, ‘Damn.'”

Banchero’s off-the-court commentary rarely delves into negative aspects of his journey to the NBA, so calling out his former campus for their lack of student-athlete privacy may prove to be a resounding issue for Duke athletes.

OutKick reached out to Duke for comment on privacy guidelines for student-athletes, but a school representative declined to comment.

In just one season with the Blue Devils, the 6-foot-10 power forward played his way to prominence and stole the show throughout March Madness. As a freshman, he averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game.

“It was a good experience, though,” Banchero admitted. “I definitely enjoyed it.”

In a three-way battle for No. 1 overall, Banchero beat Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith for Orlando’s top pick.

The 19-year-old showed off why he was the draft pack’s alpha in his regular-season debut on Wednesday night: tallying 27 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

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Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan that has watched every movie.

One Comment

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  1. Realizing that “HateDuke” is a sport all its own …. BUT … I feel certain this situation could be said for high profile MBB players at Kentucky – UNC – Gonzaga – Kansas et al ….. as well as FB players at major SEC and B1G schools.
    It is not “a Duke Thing” …

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