In a move that comes as a surprise to no one, Duke freshman big man Jahlil Okafor announced Thursday afternoon that he will forego his final three years of eligibility and enter the 2015 NBA Draft.
“As early as I can remember, I’ve fantasized and dreamed of the day that I could play professional basketball,” Okafor said in the release. “I recall at the age of six, promising my mom and dad that when I made it to the NBA I would buy them both different colored trucks. They would laugh with me in support and encouraged me to dream big and work hard. With that being said and now at the age of 19, my dream is still alive!
“My freshman year has been an amazing experience to say the least. It exceeded my expectations! I love Cameron and Duke University,” Okafor continued. “I can’t thank my coaches, teammates and family enough for making this year so special and helping me grow on and off the court. With Coach K’s and my family’s blessing I will be fulfilling my life-long dream and proudly entering my name into the NBA draft.”
Okafor’s lone season in Durham was a highly productive one, as he helped lead the Blue Devils to their fifth national title while winning ACC Freshman and Player of the Year honors. The only debate regarding Okafor when it comes to the NBA is whether he or Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns will be the top pick in late-June’s draft.
As for how it impacts Duke, this was a scenario all involved expected before the season began. Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee will both be seniors next season, and Rice transfer Sean Obi will be eligible after sitting out the 2014-15 campaign. Duke also adds five-star big man Chase Jeter, who committed last August.
There are still two important decisions to be made for Duke, with point guard Tyus Jones and forward Justise Winslow yet to announce whether they’ll follow Okafor to the NBA or return to campus for another season.