Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is an NCAA coaching legend and someone whose opinion on basketball matters is always heard. And he has a strong opinion on Duke freshman Jalen Johnson’s decision to opt out of the season.
“That guy was hurting them so they actually are much better now without him,” Boeheim told reporters. “He was just doing some things and keeping other people from playing (who) are good. They’ve had two monster wins since he’s opted out.”
Duke has actually won only once once since Johnson opted out, but it was indeed a monster victory — beating Wake Forest, 84- 60 — in an otherwise lost season. Either way, it’s interesting that Boeheim would comment on another program’s former player. But as a dean in the world of college coaching, Boeheim always has the best interests of the game in mind.
And let’s face it, he’s not the only one to criticize Johnson. Duke is having one of its worst seasons in its celebrated history, and Johnson was a part of that. He averaged 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 13 games.
It should be noted that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski cited a medical issue for the reason Johnson had opted out — and that’s something Boeheim and other critics of Johnson’s decision have failed to mention.
“While we are encouraged by what we are seeing medically, for Jalen’s future, we believe this decision is in his best interest,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “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. He deserves to be fully healthy for the upcoming NBA draft.”
Johnson is considered a top-10 prospect for the 2021 NBA Draft, mostly in the Nos. 7-10 range.