Coach K on Tre Jones return, new freshmen
The deadline for college basketball players to withdraw their names from the 2019 NBA draft ended at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Players who did remove their names before the deadline can return to their college teams, those who did not are no longer eligible to return.
Here’s a look at which players from Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State have returned to school and which ones stayed in the draft.
▪ Zion Williamson headlines the class of players entering the 2019 draft from schools in the Triangle. After all, from what seemed like the Blue Devils’ season-opening tip, the country knew to soak in Williamson’s lone year in college because it assumed he’d have no real reason to stay.
His only year at Duke only confirmed that he was deserving of his hype. In 33 games played, the 6-7, 285-pound wing averaged 8.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 22.6 points on 68 percent shooting from the field. The Blue Devils ended their season in the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight against Michigan State with records of 32-6 overall and 14-4 in the ACC. Three of Duke’s losses came when Williamson was out for six games with a knee injury.
Still, though, rumors surfaced that Williamson might return to Duke after the New Orleans Pelicans were handed the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. But Williamson shot down those rumors in April, when in an interview with SLAM Magazine, Williamson said that if he “could come back for a second year” then he would because he enjoyed it so much, but that he was still going to forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the draft.
Williamson is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
▪ RJ Barrett, USA Today’s Player of the Year and first-team All-ACC selection, will enter the draft. The first-year guard — who is 6-7, 202 pounds — started every game for the Blue Devils this past season and averaged an identical 22.6 points per game with his best friend and teammate, Williamson. Barrett is expected to be a lottery pick.
▪ Cam Reddish (6-8, 218 pounds), formerly ranked No. 3 on ESPN’s Top 100 board coming out of high school, will also enter the 2019 draft. On many draft boards, he is expected to be a lottery pick as well.
▪ Two impact players for Duke elected to return: 6-10, 234-pound junior Javin DeLaurier, and 6-2, 183-pound guard Tre Jones.
DeLaurier will return for his senior season, after averaging 3.4 points on 74.7 percent shooting last season. Jones will return for his sophomore year, after boasting a team-leading 5.3 assists a game last year.
▪ This week, Marques Bolden (6-11, 250 pounds) announced he will remain in the NBA draft, forgoing his senior season.
White put together a noteworthy year, furnishing the engine to the Tar Heels’ fast pace. He averaged 16.1 points and 4.1 assists per game — and broke UNC’s record in 3-point makes by a freshman.
His performance helped the 6-5, 185-pound White turn into a potential lottery pick in the draft.
▪ While White rose in the NBA projections as the year went on, his teammate, Nassir Little, sunk a bit. Little began the year in the top-10 of most mock drafts, but today, he is projected to go in the middle of the first round.
The 6-6, 220-pound athletic wing averaged 9.8 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field. During the NBA Combine, the wing told reporters that he struggled in as a college player because he didn’t fully understand his role on the team.
▪ Markell Johnson, who entered his name in the 2019 NBA draft earlier this year, announced on May 24 via Twitter that he’d return for his senior season.
“I’m excited about what we have returning and ready to join my teammates to get NC State back to the NCAA Tournament,” the tweet read.
The 6-1, 175-pound guard averaged 12.6 points per game and led the team in assists, averaging 4.2 a game.
▪ Sacha Killeya-Jones announced in late February that he would leave N.C. State and pursue a professional basketball career.
Killeya-Jones (6-11, 220 pounds) transferred to N.C. State after two unremarkable seasons at Kentucky, but he never saw the floor as a Wolfpack, announcing that he’d leave the team to pursue a professional career in the year that he had to sit out of play due to NCAA transfer rules.
▪ Also in the draft mix in connection to the Wolfpack is Jalen Lecque — a five-star recruit who originally committed to N.C. State in October. On Wednesday, the 6-4, 185-pound guard announced that he’ll forgo his N.C. State scholarship and stay in the draft.
Lecque is eligible for the draft right out of high school because he will turn 19 this calendar year, and, by virtue of playing five years at his prep school, is more than one year removed from his graduating class.