Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kyrie Irving will enter the 2011 NBA Draft with plans to hire an agent, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Wednesday.
DraftExpress.com projects the 6-foot-2 West Orange, N.J. native as the No. 1 overall pick in the June 23 draft in Newark.
One veteran NBA scout, however, told SNY.tv he would choose Arizona’s Derrick Williams with the No. 1 pick.
“Our whole program is overjoyed with having Kyrie here for one year and that he has the chance now to pursue a dream of being a high draft pick and a great player in the NBA,” Krzyzewski said in a statement.
“We are totally supportive of Kyrie, his family and his decision. We look forward to continuing to work with him during the upcoming months leading to his entry into the NBA and afterwards while he is an NBA player. He is a great young man, a terrific student, and a truly amazing representative for our program and for Duke. We love him and are very happy for him and his family.”
Irving played in just 11 games this season, sitting out 26 games with a toe injury after injuring his right foot in a Dec. 4 win over Butler.
He averaged 17.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game while shooting .529 (55-of-104) from the field, .462 (18-of-39) from behind the three-point line and .901 (64-of-71) from the free throw line.
Irving started the first eight games of the year, averaging 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game during that time frame. He returned to action in the NCAA Tournament and averaged 17.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in Duke’s three games.
“I want to thank the entire staff at Duke, especially the coaches,” Irving said. “It was a great experience playing for Coach K. He taught me a lot about the game. Even when I was hurt, I learned a lot. Also a special thanks goes to the medical staff for getting me back on the court for the NCAA Tournament and my teammates for sticking with me throughout the entire year. Duke offered me an experience I could never have imagined.”
He scored a game-high 31 points to go with six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals against No. 6 Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It was just the fourth time in school history a freshman scored 30 or more in a game. He was selected the CBE Classic MVP after averaging 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.5 steals in the four games.
He had 17 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals in the finals against No. 4 Kansas State. Irving also dished out nine assists against both Princeton and Colgate. In the NCAA Tournament, he scored team highs of 14 points against Hampton and 28 points against Arizona in the Sweet 16.
“This was a special year for me. I love everything about Duke and I’m going to miss it,” added Irving. ”Duke has a special place in my heart. Even though I’m leaving this year, Duke will always be in my mind and my heart. I’m going to miss putting on that No. 1 jersey.”
**Henson, Zeller to return to Carolina
**Taylor, Robinson to return to Kansas
(Release, photo courtesy Duke)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.