Probable Duke basketball early departee: Paolo Banchero
At No. 2 overall on the 247Sports 2021 Composite, Paolo Banchero arrived in Durham as a five-star talent and a projected top lottery pick for the 2022 NBA Draft. And thus far, the 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward from Seattle has looked the part.
Yes, this one is a no-brainer.
Banchero is averaging a team-high 17.0 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 62.5 percent from the field. The last Duke basketball freshman to display that level of production and efficiency was Zion Williamson, who ended up going No. 1 overall at the 2019 NBA Draft after one season in Durham.
Now, browsing pretty much all the mock drafts out there, Banchero is the early frontrunner to go No. 1 at the 2022 NBA Draft. Such an opportunity should prove too tempting to turn down, no matter how much fun the 19-year-old might be having as a Duke basketball player right about now.
Prediction: Paolo Banchero turns pro after this season.
Fortunately for the Duke basketball coaches, they already have signatures from four 2022 recruits who currently comprise the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, per 247Sports. So they have a nice headstart in filling any holes on the roster from the departures of top talents in the spring. Yet all that suggests, of course, is we will probably need another article like this one next year.