Duke basketball could tie Kentucky record at NBA Draft

Duke basketball (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball may be in store for a historic draft night.

In 2010, the Kentucky basketball program became the first in history to produce five first-round NBA Draft picks in the same year. No school has matched that number since. But five Duke basketball products collectively have a shot at doing so this go-round.

This year, the five Blue Devils who have entered their names into the draft pool are Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Mark Williams, Wendell Moore Jr., and Trevor Keels, although Keels has left the door open to return to Durham (he has until June 1 to withdraw his name).

All five are among the 76 players who received invites to next week’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

And the most recent NBA Draft Big Board at SI.com, courtesy of insider Jeremy Woo, lists all of Duke’s early draft entrants among the top 30:

  • Paolo Banchero (No. 3)
  • AJ Griffin (No. 11)
  • Mark Williams (No. 12)
  • Wendell Moore Jr. (No. 18)
  • Trevor Keels (No. 25)

Meanwhile, the ESPN.com Draftcast has one Blue Devil outside the first round. Still, all sit among the top 35:

  • Paolo Banchero (No. 2)
  • AJ Griffin (No. 8)
  • Mark Williams (No. 18)
  • Trevor Keels (No. 25)
  • Wendell Moore Jr. (No. 34)

However, at CBS Sports, insider Kyle Boone named Trevor Keels as one of the most significant recent fallers, dropping him from No. 36 to No. 43 in last week’s updated list.

How Duke basketball stacks up on the all-time list

Kentucky also holds the record with 55 all-time first-round draft picks. The Wildcats will likely add two more to that tally in TyTy Washington Jr. and Shaedon Sharpe (assuming we count Sharpe, who joined the program midseason but never played in a college game).

Next on that list is UNC’s 53 first-round draft picks. Duke ranks No. 3 with 49 — 10 more than No. 4 UCLA.

With that in mind and considering no Tar Heels are among the projected 2022 first-rounders, the Blue Devils can pass or tie their archrivals in this department when the NBA Draft takes place on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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