Duke

Duke freshman Tatum declares for NBA Draft

Posted March 22
Updated March 23

Jayson Tatum (0) of the Duke Blue Devils reacts following a basket against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 19, 2017 in Greenville, South Carolina. (Lance King/WRAL contributor)

— Duke University freshman Jayson Tatum, who averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Blue Devils in 2016-17, will enter the NBA Draft.

The school announced Tatum's widely expected decision Wednesday , and team spokesman Cory Walton said Tatum plans to hire an agent, which means he won't have the option to return to his college team.

"Whichever team selects him will be getting a humble, thoughtful and talented young man," head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “His skill set and work ethic will make him a star in the NBA."

Tatum set a Duke single-season record with six games of at least 10 points/5 rebounds/3 assists/2 steals/2 blocks.

He is the 10th Duke freshman to declare for the draft and just the third under Coach K, alongside Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor, to average 16+ points and 7+ rebounds as a freshman.

Tatum’s 26 double-figure scoring game and seven 20-point games are also both the 10th-most in Duke history by a freshman.

"I'm excited to take the next step in pursuing my lifelong dream of playing basketball at the highest possible level," Tatum said.

Tatum, a 6-foot-8 forward, was part of a highly touted Duke freshman class that also included forward Harry Giles, big man Marques Bolden and guard Frank Jackson — a group that drew comparisons to the Jahlil Okafor-Tyus Jones-Justise Winslow group two years ago that spent one season together on campus but delivered the program's fifth national championship.

Duke started out ranked No. 1 but slipped during a season full of distractions that included injuries to three of those freshmen — including Tatum, who missed the first eight games with a sprained foot — as well as Grayson Allen's one-game suspension and Krzyzewski's monthlong absence to have back surgery.

Despite that, the Blue Devils became the first team to claim the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title by winning four games in four days, and entered the NCAA Tournament as a popular pick to reach the Final Four. They were knocked out by South Carolina in the second round, their earliest exit since the 2014 team was bounced in its tournament opener by Mercer.

Tatum was the first Duke player to announce his plans. Others who face decisions include Allen, Giles and leading scorer Luke Kennard.

___

More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org

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