Jahlil Okafor To Enter 2015 NBA Draft

Jahlil Okafor To Enter 2015 NBA Draft

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  • Duke Blue Devils freshman center and 2015 ACC Player of the Year Jahlil Okafor will enter the 2015 NBA draft.

Duke Blue Devils freshman center Jahlil Okafor has announced he will enter the 2015 NBA draft just three days after his team won the national title over the Wisconsin Badgers.

Duke Blue Devils freshman center Jahlil Okafor will enter the 2015 NBA draft. 

His head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, made the announcement in a press release on Duke’s official athletics website on April 9:

“What a great decision! This is a tremendous opportunity for Jahlil and he has earned it. Obviously, he has done an incredible job here at Duke and he will always be a part of our Duke basketball family. We could not be happier for he and his family.”

Okafor becomes the sixth Duke freshman to declare for the NBA draft, per GoDuke.com. He follows in the footsteps of his predecessors Corey Maggette (1999), Luol Deng (2004), Kyrie Irving (2011), Austin Rivers (2012) and Jabari Parker (2014). 

Each of those five players were among the first 13 to be selected in their respective drafts. According to Duke’s official athletics website, Irving was the highest draft pick as he went first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers four years ago. 

Okafor told GoDuke.com on Thursday he has always dreamed of playing in the NBA since he was a young child growing up in Chicago:

“As early as I can remember, I’ve fantasized and dreamed of that day that I could play professional basketball. I recall at the age of six, promising my mom and dad that when I made it to the NBA I would buy them both different colored trucks. 

“They would laugh with me in support and encouraged me to dream big and work hard. With that being said and now at the age of 19, my dream is still alive! My freshman year has been an amazing experience to say the least. It exceeded my expectations! I love Cameron and Duke University!

“I can’t thank my coaches, teammates and family enough for making this year special and helping me grow on and off the court. With Coach K’s and my family’s blessing I will be fulfilling my life-long dream and proudly entering my name into the NBA draft.”

An April 9 ESPN update hints Okafor’s teammates, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, could also join him in the 2015 NBA draft. 

Okafor, who scored 10 points and grabbed three rebounds in Duke’s 68-63 win over the Wisconsin Badgers on April 6 to clinch the national title, told ESPN on Wednesday “it would kind of suck” not to have spent not too much time with longtime friend Jones. 

He also added whatever move he would make regarding the NBA draft on June 30 would be a “business decision,” per ESPN. 

Okafor averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game on his way to leading the Blue Devils to a 35-4 record and winning several accolades such as National Freshman of the Year and ACC Player & Freshman of the Year, per GoDuke.com.

He owns the distinction of being the first freshman to earn ACC Player of the Year honors, per Duke’s official athletics website. 

He also finished eighth in the nation in field-goal percentage (.664) and 19th in offensive rebounds per game (3.53). He also established Duke freshman records with 35 double-figure scoring games, 322 total rebounds, 134 offensive rebounds and 64 dunks, per GoDuke.com.

In addition to his freshman records, Okafor also scored at least 20 points 14 times and added 11 double-doubles for good measure. He continued his top-notch play in this year’s NCAA Tournament, averaging 15.0 points and 5.7 rebounds on 63.5 percent shooting.

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