Earlier: An atypically rocky year for Duke basketball continued on Monday with reports that freshman forward Jalen Johnson is opting out of the rest of the season.
Johnson, a five-star prospect and the top recruit in Duke’s 2020 class, averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in 13 contests for the Blue Devils this season. He missed three games earlier in the season with a foot injury.
Zagsblogs’ Jacob Polacheck first broke the news of Johnson opting out. Duke (8-8 overall, 6-6 in the ACC) has six regular season games remaining.
While Johnson showed flashes of why he’s a projected lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, he also seemed to have some issues with Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke staff. The 6-foot-8 forward was benched late in Tuesday’s loss to Notre Dame and didn’t play at all in the second half of Saturday’s win over NC State.
Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported that there have been “off-court issues” involving Johnson and his camp and Duke going back to earlier this season.
Source: There have been off-court issues between Jalen Johnson/his camp and Duke dating back to early on in the season. https://t.co/oJVlJ4u5oQ
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) February 15, 2021
Barring a late-season barrage of wins and a deep ACC Tournament run, Duke is set to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. At this point, the Blue Devils might be better off focusing on developing players for next season.
As for Johnson, if he and the program were butting heads, it might be best for both parties to part ways. He can now begin training and getting ready for the NBA Draft process.
Update: Duke confirmed the Johnson news moments ago.
NEWS: Jalen Johnson will forgo remainder of season, enter NBA Draft pic.twitter.com/VLNP0Wgs3y
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) February 16, 2021
Interesting how the program worded it as forgoing the rest of the season and entering the draft.