Draft talk about Duke stars a mixed review

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the second consecutive year, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft could be a point guard from the Triangle. A year ago, Raleigh's John Wall went to the Washington Wizards with the first pick. Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers are likely to take Duke freshman Kyrie Irving first overall.

Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant told reporters on Wednesday that the team has no concerns about the toe injury that limited Irving to 11 games at Duke — eight to open the season and three in the NCAA tournament, opening the door for the New Jersey native to go first overall.

While Irving is expected to go quickly after one season at Duke, the draft status of Duke's two four-year players is less certain. Forward Kyle Singler is likely to go in the second half of the first round or in the second round. Guard Nolan Smith — the ACC player of the year — is projected go in the second round.

Singler and Smith led Duke to a national title as juniors and won three ACC tournaments and one regular-season title, but they have been overshadowed by their freshman teammate when it comes to the draft.

If Singler goes in the first round, it would be the fourth time Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has had two first-round picks in the same draft. Overall, 21 Duke players have been first-round draft picks in the Krzyzewski era, and Duke has had at least one player selected in 11 of the past 13 drafts.

At least one of Irving's ACC rivals will be watching. North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, the league's other star freshman last season, has become a close friend of Irving's. He decided to stay in Chapel Hill while Irving decided to make the jump to the NBA, but the two have spent plenty of time discussing their respective futures before and after their decisions.

"He's looking forward to it, obviously," Barnes said this week.

"It's a big day for him, a life-changing day."

Share This Story