Duke Star Freshman Jayson Tatum Declares For NBA Draft

    Duke's Jayson Tatum is entering the 2017 NBA Draft. The star freshman's career ended a bit prematurely when the Blue Devils were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament.

    March 22, 2017

    Duke’s Jayson Tatum is entering the 2017 NBA Draft. The star freshman’s career ended a bit prematurely when the Blue Devils were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament.

    Another star freshman is leaving Duke after just one season of play.

    Forward Jayson Tatum has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft, the school announced on Wednesday. The news comes on the heels of Duke’s ousting from the NCAA Tournament at the hands of South Carolina on Sunday, preventing Mike Krzyzewski’s squad from reaching the Sweet 16.

    Losing a freshman player after a stellar first season is nothing new for fans of the Blue Devils, though, as Coach K consistently brings in star-studded recruiting classes that feature players getting drafted early following strong initial campaigns. Tatum is the seventh player in the past six years to leave Durham after his freshman season.

    Tatum’s first and only season in Durham did not get off to a great start, as he suffered a left foot sprain on Oct. 26 of last year. He made his debut against Maine at the beginning of December but needed time to adjust to the speed of the college game. Before long, though, Tatum became an integral piece to Duke’s run toward a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance.

    The St. Louis native played exceptionally well during the team’s seven-game win streak in conference play, particularly in victories over Notre Dame, North Carolina and Virginia. His inside-outside game was a matchup nightmare for foes. He likely strengthened his draft stock during Duke’s run to an ACC Tournament title, as he averaged 22.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

    For the 2016-17 season, he averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest, and he joined current NBA players Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor as the only freshmen during Krzyzewski’s tenure to average at least 16 points and seven rebounds per game.

    No matter where he is selected in the summer, Tatum will be a high pick. The versatile Blue Devil can play both the three and the four at the next level with the talent to be in the league for a decade-plus.

    “I’m excited to take the next step in pursuing my lifelong dream of playing basketball at the highest possible level,” Tatum said in a release. “With that said, I’ve loved my time at Duke. The brotherhood is a real thing and I’ll always be part of the bond between former, current and future Duke players. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, family and friends for the unwavering support I’ve received as I pursue my dream.”

    The Blue Devils could also lose power forward Harry Giles after just one season. He showed glimpses of being a productive NBA player despite battling back from a knee injury in ’16-17. By the end of the year, he ended up being one of Coach K’s key contributors when the Blue Devils were rounding into form as the possible national title contender that many thought they would be heading into the season.

    MORE: Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner Doing His Best Coaching Job Yet


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