College Basketball

Next for Duke: Waiting for freshmen to go pro

Duke freshman Justise Winslow, left, and Jahlil Okafor, enjoy the welcome home celebration in Durham in front of thousands.
Duke freshman Justise Winslow, left, and Jahlil Okafor, enjoy the welcome home celebration in Durham in front of thousands. clowenst@newsobserver.com

With the offseason now upon us, the next matter of business will be waiting for the Blue Devils to decide if they are remaining in school or going to enter the NBA Draft.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Wednesday he will meet with each player individually in the coming days to talk about what they want and to provide them with accurate feedback from NBA decision makers.

I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence (including my own) by pretending Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow have a decision to make. Okafor will be the No. 1 or No. 2 pick, and Winslow is a top-10 pick as well. But both Okafor and Winslow said they would go through the process collecting feedback from Duke’s coaches.

That leaves Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen (don’t laugh – more on that in a minute).

Jones is projected as a first-round pick, somewhere in the 20-30 range. If you are an ESPN Insider, I would recommend Jeff Goodman’s article from ESPN.com for proper perspective on the decision Jones faces. In sum: his stock will never be higher than it is right now.

“Every basketball player’s dream is to go to the NBA. And that’s what you work hard for all year. I mean, all your life, really,” Jones said Wednesday. “So to be able to have to make a decision about that, it’s a good spot to be in.”

Jones was asked point-blank how much the decision of Winslow and Okafor will impact his own.

“It will impact it,” Jones said.

That’s the takeaway line. But the rest of the quote is below.

“But at the same time, each of us, myself, Justise and Jah, you have to make what is best for yourself because it is your future,” Jones said. “Obviously we’re going to look at each other and what each other decides to do, but at the same time, they have to make the right decisions for themselves, and I have to make my decision.”

Now about Allen. His championship-game performance, driving at will and scoring eight straight points when Duke was down nine in the second half, put him on the NBA draft map. In fact, ESPN’s Chad Ford has him ranked No. 31 – overall – on his big board.

But Allen was firm in his intention to return to school.

“It’s not a question for me,” Allen said. “I will be back here.”

Allen, who is incredibly down-to-earth by elite athlete standards, had a reaction most casual fans did to his sudden rise up the mock draft boards.

“I didn’t know I could go from being the eighth guy in the rotation to being a first-round draft pick now,” Allen said. “That’s just part of how crazy these last couple of days have been for me.”

Keeley: 919-829-4556;

Twitter: @laurakeeley

Quotes from Duke press conference Wednesday:

Mike Krzyzewski on next year’s team: “When a program has reached a certain level – our program has … – there is going to be uncertainty every year.”

On chances to win the title: “I thought we should win when we got to the Final Four.”

Grayson Allen on his draft prospects: “I didn’t know you could go from being the 8th guy to a first-round pick.”

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