Duke basketball: 6 players who could turn pro early

Duke basketball (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Will a handful of Duke basketball talents be NBA-bound at the season’s end?

Duke basketball’s two grad transfers, Theo John and Bates Jones, are expiring their eligibility this season. And even though senior Joey Baker has the option to return for a fifth year with the Duke Blue Devils since the NCAA isn’t counting the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season against anyone’s eligibility, his potential departure shouldn’t fall in the “early” category.

But judging from Duke’s player stats through the team’s 4-0 start combined with individuals’ past high school rankings and current draft stock, it seems that up to six men on the 2021-22 Blue Devil roster may have sincere stay-or-go decisions to make come spring.

Sure, the new NIL rule allowing athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness may alter their thinking. Still, another exodus of young talent from Durham appears in the cards.

So let’s now examine the half-dozen Blue Devils who might bolt early, one at a time, in order of the likelihood that they will indeed turn pro following the season. We’ll begin with the one who is least likely to do so and conclude with the freshman who continues to look like a sure-thing one-and-done.