Duke, Arizona agree to basketball series for 2023 and 2024

Getty Images
0 Comments

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke and Arizona have agreed to a home-and-home men’s basketball series for 2023 and 2024.

The schools announced the agreement Monday. The first meeting comes in November 2023 with the Wildcats visiting the Blue Devils’ famously hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke travels west to Tucson the following November.

In statements, new Duke coach Jon Scheyer and Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd – named The Associated Press men’s college basketball national coach of the year in April after his debut season – said their teams will benefit from the marquee non-conference matchups.

The teams haven’t met since November 2013 and have played just nine times, including Duke’s win in the 2001 NCAA title game. The Wildcats lost their only trip to Cameron in February 1990, while the Blue Devils lost both trips to Arizona’s McKale Center in December 1987 and February 1991.

 

Blue Devils’ Griffin becomes 5th Duke player to bolt for NBA

North Carolina v Duke
Getty Images
0 Comments

Duke freshman A.J. Griffin is heading to the NBA, becoming the fifth Blue Devils player in the past week to declare early for the draft.

The school announced Griffin’s decision Sunday, the last day for players to declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft. Duke said the 6-foot-6, 222-pound wing regarded as a potential lottery draft pick plans to hire an agent.

“It was a dream come true,” Griffin said in a statement. “My experiences have helped prepare me for this moment and I am proud to know I will be a Blue Devil for life.”

Griffin’s NBA move follows that of 7-1 sophomore Mark Williams, 6-10 star freshman Paolo Banchero, 6-5 wing Wendell Moore Jr. and 6-5 guard Trevor Keels. Part of one of the nation’s top recruiting classes out of Ossining, New York, Griffin is ranked as ESPN’s No. 8 draft prospect.

He averaged 10.4 points while providing size, outside shooting and defensive potential to the wing for the Blue Devils. That production came despite him missing most of his last two high school seasons because of knee and ankle injuries, as well as a preseason knee injury that slowed his process of getting back in rhythm after extended absences.

His role grew as he became more comfortable in returning to full-time action. He moved into the top lineup by mid January and never left, starting Duke’s last 25 games. He had 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting in his first start at Wake Forest, the first of five 20-point outputs as a starter – the highlight being a 27-point star-making turn in a win at rival North Carolina in early February.

Griffin made 71 of 159 3-pointers (44.7%), including 10 games as a starter with at least three 3s.

Griffin helped Duke reach now-retired Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski’s record 13th Final Four while winning the program’s first outright Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title since 2006.

“A.J. was one of the best shooters in the nation and his skillset is exactly what NBA teams are looking for,” Krzyzewski said in a statement.

While Duke is losing a lot of top-tier talent as Jon Scheyer takes over for Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils will have guard Jeremy Roach – who announced his return earlier in the week and had a strong postseason run – as the team’s top returning scorer (8.6 points, 27 starts). Duke also has 247sports’ No. 1-ranked recruiting class, featuring top overall prospect Dereck Lively II, fellow big man Kyle Filipowski (No. 3) and small forward Dariq Whitehead (No. 5).

Duke’s Trevor Keels takes one-and-done leap to NBA draft

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Duke freshman Trevor Keels is the fourth Blue Devils player in the past week to announce plans to enter the NBA draft.

The school announced Keels’ decision Saturday and said he planned to hire an agent.

The 6-foot-5, 221-pound guard is a potential first-round prospect and is ranked as ESPN’s No. 25 draft prospect. He averaged 11.5 points while providing size and strength to the Blue Devils’ perimeter, both as a driving scorer and as a ballhandler.

Part of one of the nation’s top recruiting classes out of Clinton, Maryland, Keels started 26 games in the final season for Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“The whole season was a movie and I am grateful to have been part of Coach K’s last ride,” Keels said in a statement.

Keels follows 7-foot-1 sophomore Mark Williams, 6-10 star freshman Paolo Banchero and 6-5 wing Wendell Moore Jr. in the draft.

Keels got off to a strong start, scoring 25 points with his physical attacking play in a season-opening win against Kentucky. He missed three midseason games with a calf injury and came off the bench for the NCAA Tournament when the team moved to Jeremy Roach to get improved defensive pressure on the ball.

Part of a touted recruiting class, Keels helped Duke reach Krzyzewski’s record 13th Final Four while also winning the program’s first outright Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title since 2006.

Keels had two big NCAA Tournament performances, first with 12 points and a critical 3-pointer with 3:24 left as Duke rallied from five down late to beat Michigan State in Round 2. He closed with 19 points in the loss to rival North Carolina in the national semifinals in New Orleans.

“Trevor made tremendous improvement throughout the year and stepped up for us in critical moments,” Krzyzewski said in a statement.

Duke captain Wendell Moore Jr. declares for NBA draft

Getty Images
0 Comments

Wendell Moore Jr. is the third Duke player this week to announce plans to enter the NBA draft.

The school revealed Moore’s decision Thursday night, saying he would hire an agent. The 6-foot-5, 213-pound junior and potential first-round pick won the Julius Erving Award as college basketball’s top small forward this season.

Ranked as the No. 34 draft prospect by ESPN, Moore showed versatile athleticism that let him play on the ball or as a slasher while routinely taking on top defensive assignments.

“I’ve grown so much over the last three years – experienced highs and lows that will shape me for the rest of my life,” Moore said in a statement. “It has truly been an honor to be a Blue Devil, and although I will miss those moments with my teammates, I will cherish them forever.”

Moore follows 7-foot-1 sophomore Mark Williams and 6-10 star freshman Paolo Banchero into the draft.

Moore averaged career highs of 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists. The team captain also improved his outside shot, shooting 41.3% from behind the arc after shooting 28.3% through his first two seasons. He shot 50% from the field overall.

Moore started all 39 games to help the Blue Devils reach now-retired Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski’s record 13th Final Four while also winning the program’s first outright Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title since 2006.

“He was there for us every minute,” Krzyzewski said in a statement, adding: “He will be an immediate asset to an NBA team.”

Prior to this season, Moore – a high school recruit out of Charlotte – etched his name into the lore of the Duke-UNC rivalry as a freshman when he scored on a putback of an airballed jumper as time expired in Duke’s wild overtime victory in February 2020.

Duke’s Banchero makes NBA leap after 1 year with Blue Devils

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Duke’s Paolo Banchero is leaping to the NBA after one season as a candidate to be the No. 1 overall draft pick.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound freshman announced his decision in a social media video Wednesday, with the school saying he planned to hire an agent.

“It has always been a dream of mine to play at Duke, and it has always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA,” Banchero said. “Duke has prepared me for that on and off the court. … It has been a great journey and I’m blessed to be a part of The Brotherhood for life.”

The freshman had been viewed as a likely one-and-done player even before he stepped foot on the Durham, North Carolina, campus from Seattle. Blessed with a strong frame, size and perimeter skills, Banchero went on to become a third-team All-America pick by the The Associated Press, and ranks No. 2 in ESPN’s latest list of draft prospects.

The headliner on a talented recruiting class, Banchero averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, cracking the 20-point mark 15 times while failing to reach double figures only twice in 39 games. He helped Duke reach now-retired Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski’s record 13th Final Four while also winning the program’s first outright Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title since 2006.

In a statement from the school, Krzyzewski said Banchero is “absolutely ready to attack the next phase” of his career.

“He is so dynamic, explosive and versatile – a model player in today’s NBA game. He did whatever we asked at a very high level,” Krzyzewski said. “I loved having him and his family in our program and wish him all the best as his professional career begins.”

Banchero also took advantage of opportunities for college athletes to cash in on their fame with endorsements, which began last summer with the NCAA permitted athletes to profit from use of their name, image and likeness (NIL).

In Banchero’s case, he worked with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) for marketing deals and got deals that included becoming the first player featured in the latest NBA 2K video game as well as a basketball trading card from Panini as part of a multi-year deal.

Now he’s off to make even more money in the NBA.

Banchero is the second Duke player to announce an early jump to the NBA, f ollowing 7-foot-1 sophomore Mark Williams two days earlier.

Duke’s Williams entering NBA draft after sophomore season

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Big man Mark Williams is the first of Duke’s multiple NBA prospects to say he’s leaving to enter the draft.

The 7-foot-1, 242-pound sophomore announced his decision in a social media video Monday evening.

“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine, just like how (attending) Duke was when I was growing up,” Williams said. “Duke has prepared me to take this next step and I’m excited to announce I will be declaring for the 2022 NBA Draft.”

Ranked as the No. 18 draft prospect by ESPN, Williams was an elite rim protector last season and a finalist for national defensive player of the year. The Virginia Beach, Virginia, native started all 39 games, averaged 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds and ranked 12th nationally with 2.82 blocks per game. He also shot 70.4% through two college seasons and improved at the foul line significantly (from 53.7% as a freshman to 72.7% as a sophomore).

Much of Williams’ offensive production came on putbacks, dunks and alley-oop passes with the rest of his offensive game in development, though he has shown back-to-the-basket growth, too.

Williams joined star freshman Paolo Banchero in giving Duke a strong frontline that helped the Blue Devils reach now-retired Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski’s record 13th Final Four while also winning the program’s first outright Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title since 2006.

“He is gifted at both ends of the floor and is driven to get even better every day,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “The NBA team that drafts Mark is obviously getting a talented player, but an equally impressive young man off the court that will represent their organization with class.”

He closed his Duke career with eight points and four rebounds while being limited to 17 minutes due to foul trouble in the loss to rival North Carolina in the national semifinals.

Multiple Duke players, including star freshmen in Banchero and A.J. Griffin, also are considered likely to head to the NBA.