Duke freshman guard Kyrie Irving will enter the 2011 NBA Draft with plans to hire an agent, meaning he’s in the draft to say. Mike Krzyzewski announced this Wednesday afternoon. Irving is expected to be among the top three picks, possibly #1 overall in the draft.
“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,” said Krzyzewski.
“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, a 6-2 guard from West Orange, N.J., played in just 11 games this season, sitting out 26 contests with a toe injury on his right foot. He averaged 17.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per 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 outings.
Irving overcame as serious toe injury in midseason, and returned to play some of his best college basketball in the NCAA Tournament, as he showcased his scoring ability that impresses NBA scouts versus Arizona, and the Michigan Wolverines.
But his best day was probably when he scored a game-high 31 points to go with six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals against the 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. And none of us knew how overrated the Spartans were at the time, so it seemed all the more impressive.
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.”
He does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbankPowered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks