Draft expert sees Duke basketball forward going No. 1 next year

Duke basketball (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

The 2022 NBA Draft should be extremely friendly to Duke basketball players.

Yes, we’re still a long way from next summer’s NBA Draft. Sure, Duke basketball power forward Paolo Banchero doesn’t even tip off his anticipated one-and-done college campaign for another couple of months.

Nevertheless, SI.com draft expert Jeremy Woo unveiled his first 2022 “big board” on Thursday afternoon and has the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Banchero holding down the top spot. Gonzaga’s 7-foot freshman center, Chet Holmgren, sits No. 2 overall.

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In other words, Woo has flip-flopped Banchero and Holmgren from their respective rankings on the final 247Sports 2021 Composite.

If that forecast proves accurate, Banchero would add to Duke’s outright record when it comes to producing No. 1 draft picks. The four Blue Devils who have achieved this feat are Zion Williamson in 2019, Kyrie Irving in 2011, Elton Brand in 1999, and Art Heyman in 1963.

Jeremy Woo seeing two more Duke basketball youngsters in the first round

Duke basketball freshman small forward AJ Griffin, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound five-star prospect who wound up No. 17 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite, pops up at No. 9 in Woo’s eyes. And the 7-foot, 240-pound sophomore center Mark Williams, who also arrived in Durham with a five-star rating, barely found his way onto the list of projected first-rounders at No. 30 overall.

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Mike Krzyzewski, who is entering his 42nd and final season at the helm for Duke before passing the torch to Jon Scheyer, has put at least three fellas in the same first round of an NBA Draft five times: 1999, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

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The 1999 Blue Devil batch remains the program’s only one that has consisted of four first-rounders (Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, Corey Maggette, and William Avery).