Duke basketball: Rocky career comes to an end in Durham

Duke basketball guards Joey Baker and Trevor Keels (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball guards Joey Baker and Trevor Keels (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

A strange Duke basketball career has come to a more bizarre ending. 

The first person who announced that he was returning for another season with the Duke basketball program was Joey Baker.

Until he announced he wasn’t.

Following the end of the season banquet for the Blue Devils, the senior captain was seen on crutches. And it was announced that he underwent left hip surgery and would immediately begin his rehab process and use his final year of eligibility at Duke.

Then, just over a month later, it was announced that the Fayetteville, North Carolina native would be leaving the program as a graduate transfer.

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“My four years at Duke have meant the world to me. I have grown immensely as a player, teammate, and most importantly as a person,” Baker said in a press release on Wednesday.

Joey Baker played in 34 games for the Blue Devils this season and averaged 4.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game on 43.2-percent shooting from the field and 40.5-percent from 3-point range.

“It has been an absolute pleasure having Joey [Baker] and his family in our program over the last four years. He’s been a joy to coach and a great leader for our young men,” Mike Krzyzewski said.

The deadline to enter the transfer portal and be immediately eligible for next season was May 1, so Baker will have to be granted a waiver by the NCAA to play for his next school, which should not be an issue as a graduate transfer.

Joey Baker planned to redshirt his freshman year, but Krzyzewski burned the redshirt towards the end of the regular season for the wing to play four games and a total of 18 minutes.

Baker then saw inconsistent playing time the rest of his career with struggles defensively and star freshman recruits coming in each season.

Duke basketball roster could be changing quickly

The news of Joey Baker entering the transfer portal is not necessarily surprising considering the Blue Devils are in hot pursuit of Northern Iowa transfer AJ Green, who was visiting Durham on Wednesday.

Green is also considering Iowa State, where his father is an assistant coach, or remaining in the NBA Draft.

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Duke is also weighing the potential return of guard Trevor Keels from the NBA Draft process, although its pursuit of Green and Keels’ workouts at the NBA Draft Combine make that look less likely by the day.

Joey Baker is the last player to leave Duke in the loaded 2018 recruiting class that was comprised of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones.

The group won one ACC Tournament Championship and only advanced to one Final Four, although Baker and Jones did not have an ACC or NCAA Tournament in their sophomore seasons.

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