Could Duke basketball keep freshman for another year?

Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

A Duke basketball freshman could be sticking around Durham for more than one season. 

It is not often when the Duke basketball program is able to keep a highly recruited freshman star for more than one season, but the Blue Devils could have a chance at keeping AJ Griffin for another year.

Griffin entered Duke as a consensus five-star recruit, and many early NBA mock drafts had the White Plains, New York native being selected inside the Top-10.

However, the often-injured forward suffered another injury when he sprained his knee in preseason practice prior to his freshman season. Griffin did not miss any games due to the injury, but it has been very clear since opening night against Kentucky that he is not fully healthy.

The Blue Devils have seen glimpses of what they thought they would be getting on a consistent basis with the 6-foot-6 forward as Griffin posted five points and six rebounds against Gardner-Webb and poured in 18 points against Lafayette.

Despite the progress that AJ Griffin started to show at the end of Duke’s most recent homestand, the freshman was unable to see the floor often in games against Gonzaga and Ohio State.

Griffin logged just six minutes against the Bulldogs and only two minutes in the loss to the Buckeyes.

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Could the lack of playing time against major competition, as well as injury history, play a factor in whether AJ Griffin makes the leap to the NBA following this season?

In the most recent mock draft by The Athletic, Griffin is projected to be selected No. 12 by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the second Duke player off the board, only trailing superstar Paolo Banchero at No. 2.

In its most updated Top-100 Big Board, ESPN has Griffin listed at No. 30 overall, the fifth Duke player in its rankings behind Banchero, Trevor Keels, Mark Williams, and Wendell Moore.

The situation, at this early stage, seems somewhat comparable to Harry Giles’ dilemma in Durham as his high school injuries carried to Duke, which have also translated to the NBA.

Giles, who has not been able to carve out a sustained role in the NBA, made the right decision by leaving Duke after one season as his injuries already cost him being a top pick in the NBA Draft, and the forward still earned a first-round pick contract despite being drafted at No. 20 in 2017.

Duke basketball already with a loaded incoming recruiting class

Entering his first year as the new head coach of the program, Jon Scheyer has already inked the top-ranked recruiting class in the country, led by Derek Lively, Dariq Whitehead, Kyle Filipowski, and Jaden Schutt.

Duke could be losing as many as seven scholarships players after this season, including AJ Griffin, so Scheyer still has work to do with filling out the remainder of his first roster.

It certainly would not be a problem if AJ Griffin wants to remain in Durham for his sophomore season, although making the leap to the NBA might be the best decision financially.

Duke returns to the court on December 14 against South Carolina State.

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