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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Probable Duke basketball early departee: AJ Griffin

Although AJ Griffin suffered an unfortunate setback during an October practice via his sprained right knee, his latest outing may signal an emergence. After often looking out of place in his limited minutes across Duke’s first three games, he soared on multiple occasions en route to five points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 16 minutes against Gardner-Webb this week.

Granted, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound small forward’s stock as a prep fell considerably in his final two years at Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) while he battled injuries and saw limited action in light of his state’s no-nonsense restrictions during the pandemic. In the end, the former five-star slid from a top 10 ranking to No. 18 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite.

At the same time, though, Griffin’s name routinely popped up as a projected 2022 lottery pick due to his wealth of NBA-esque qualities. In other words, there remains little doubt that the 18-year-old’s chiseled frame, sheer athleticism, and NBA pedigree — as the son of Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin — will help his cause in the eyes of scouts.

Prediction: AJ Griffin turns pro after this season.