Duke basketball players who benefit most from Jalen Johnson departure

Former Duke basketball forward Jalen Johnson (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Former Duke basketball forward Jalen Johnson (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball forward Jalen Johnson has left the program, and players will benefit. 

The bombshell that was revealed on Monday night was that Duke basketball freshman forward Jalen Johnson has left the team and will enter the 2021 NBA Draft.

As the news might not be the most shocking development to hit the Blue Devils, given the body language and hustle Johnson showed in recent games, it was still startling to see the news officially come to the forefront.

The statements by Jalen Johnson and head coach Mike Krzyzewski were both cordial and worded carefully, but this was not a “mutual” decision.

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The five-star recruit did suffer a foot injury that kept him out for just over a month between December and January, which seemingly was called as a cover-up by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, alluding to trouble between Johnson’s team and Duke.

Many ridiculed Goodman for his take, but it seems as if the veteran reporter was correct all along.

However, Mike Krzyzewski did not just come up to Johnson and say, “Hey Jalen, I think it would be best if you left the team.”

Things like that just don’t happen, especially with a five-star recruit who has dealt with issues between his camp and high school coaching staffs in the past.

Duke basketball players have opportunities to shine

The Wisconsin native certainly was the most individually gifted player on Duke this season, but the Blue Devils played better as a team with him off the floor, and now more players will have the opportunities to shine with the forward no longer with the program.

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Johnson was demoted from the starting lineup to coming off the bench in the last three games for the Blue Devils and was limited to just 23 combined minutes in Duke’s last two games.

With Jalen Johnson no longer on the roster, the opportunity will be there for other players to shine and carve out a role on the 2021-22 roster.