Apr 6, 2011, 6:10 PM EDT
Kryie Irving is leaving Duke after his freshman year to enter the NBA draft. It’s official.
This wasn’t really a surprise to anyone except delusional, hard-core Duke fans who refuse to believe anyone is going to leave their heaven-on-earth campus, but reality intrudes once again.
Irving likely will be the top overall pick. Start trying to picture him in the wine and gold of Cleveland now. (Although if Minnesota gets the top pick they can add him to Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn in a couple years for a four PG and Kevin Love lineup.) Follow this link to the official Duke statement, I’m not going to put those dull quotes here.
Irving only played 11 games this past season for Duke due to a foot injury, but recovered in time for the NCAA Tournament, stepped in a looked good. (Duke didn’t lost because of him, they lost because of team defense.)
Irving is maybe the one franchise-changing guy in this draft. He is a very good all-around point guard — he can shoot (46 percent from three), pass, he’s quick, he understands the game. He plays a position that has become more important in the NBA.
He’s going to be good. The only questions have been will he be Derrick Rose/John Wall good, or is he a step below them? (Note, we mean what Wall can grow into in a couple years, not what he was as a rookie, which still was pretty good.) Scouts are divided. However, in this draft, where there are no other franchise guys, it’s a risk a team will take.
Since we’re talking draft we’ll throw in another Tobacco Road note: junior Tyler Zeller and sophomore John Henson are returning to North Carolina for another year. Harrison Barnes, the one from that team who would be drafted highest, has het to make up his mind.
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