Duke forward Harry Giles (1) pulls down a rebound in front of teammate Jayson Tatum (0) against North Carolina during their ACC Tournament semifinals game March 10 in New York, announced Tuesday that he will join Tatum in entering the NBA draft.
Duke guard Luke Kennard (5) was named to the AP All-America second team on Tuesday, making him the Blue Devils' 30th consensus All-American.
By Adam Rowe
Special to the Times
The Duke basketball season most certainly didn’t end as many expected when it began, but winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in historic fashion (first team to win four tournament games in four days) and beating its rival twice lessens the sting of a disappointing year that ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Going through all the injuries (21 games missed for Chase Jeter, 11 for Harry Giles, 13 for Marques Bolden, eight for Jayson Tatum, two for Grayson Allen, two for Amile Jefferson and one for Frank Jackson), as well as seven games missed by head coach Mike Krzyzewski due to back surgery, it would not have been surprising to see the team fold. But, the Blue Devils showed resilience, winning 28 games and bringing home the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off and ACC Tournament titles.
The mass exodus for Duke has begun, with Tatum announcing last week that he was going to enter his name in the NBA draft and would sign with an agent. Jeter followed with his announcement that he was going to transfer, and Tuesday, reserve big man Sean Obi announced he would follow Jeter and transfer to another institution where more minutes would be available.
Finally, Giles announced that he is going pro and following fellow freshman Tatum to the NBA draft. That’s six player departures (including Matt Jones and Jefferson) from the 2016-17 ACC champions.
KENNARD AN ALL-AMERICAN
Sophomore Luke Kennard earned a Second Team All-American nod from The Associated Press on Tuesdayday, giving him honors from all four publications considered when determining consensus All-American status. Kennard joins 30 other former Blue Devils to earn consensus All-American honors, and marks the 10th straight year that Duke has had at least one.
A GLIMPSE OF NEXT YEAR
Duke is still waiting on NBA decisions from Kennard and Allen, and there is some talk that Bolden is interested in a transfer if his NBA evaluation doesn’t come back as favorably as he would hope. Regardless, the team next season will look a lot different than it did this past year. Such is life in the one-and-done era to which Duke has successfully adapted on the recruiting trail.
At least two members of the 2017-18 Duke team will be on display Wednesday night in the 40th annual McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago.
Duke signees Wendell Carter and Gary Trent joined top Blue Devils’ prospects Trevon Duval, Kevin Knox and Mohamed Bamba in Chicago all week, and the two Duke commits were in the ears of the three uncommitted guys to convince them to join up in Durham next year.
At this time, Duke has a strong majority of the 247Sports.com Crystal Ball predictions for Duval and Knox and are battling Kentucky and Texas for Bamba. As seen above, the 2017-18 Blue Devils will need all the help they can get next season as playing time will be plentiful, whether Allen and Kennard go pro.
After this week, those guys aren’t done being around each other. All five will be together at two different events in April — the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland the week of April 7 and the Jordan Brand Classic in New York on April 14.
DECISIONS COMING SOON
Duval, Knox and Bamba are expected to make their college decisions sometime next month, with Knox’s coming after the Jordan Brand Classic and Duval and Bamba’s expected later on in the month — or even into May in Duval’s case. The final day to remove a player’s name from NBA draft eligibility and return to college is May 24, although it’s not likely any of those players would wait that long.
Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.