Coach K backs Banchero for NBA impact after Duke forward declares for draft

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Potential first overall pick Paolo Banchero has declared for the 2022 NBA Draft after a superb season for Duke under Mike Krzyzewski.

Banchero is considered one of the top prospects in the coming draft class after averaging 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds across 39 games in a single season with the Blue Devils.

In the final season of coach Krzyzewski's 42-year Duke career, Banchero played a key role in the team's ACC regular season championship triumph, as well as their run to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

Duke's season was ended by rivals North Carolina, but Banchero had 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in that losing effort.

Now, he will take those talents to the NBA, announcing his entry to the draft in a video message that included words of thanks for his team-mates, fans and 'Coach K'.

"To Coach K, it was an honour to be a part of your final season," the forward said. "Thank you for pushing me every single day and expecting nothing but the best out of me.

Banchero added: "It has always been a dream of mine to play at Duke, and it has always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA.

"Duke has prepared me for that on and off the court. I'm excited to announce that I'll be entering my name in the 2022 NBA Draft.

"It has been a great journey and I'm blessed to be a part of 'The Brotherhood' for life."

Krzyzewski expects Banchero to have an impact among the pros, saying: "Paolo had a truly incredible season and is absolutely ready to attack the next phase of his playing career.

"He put up remarkable numbers and won awards, but he always put the team first. Paolo is a great leader in that regard and someone all of our players admired, even though he was just a freshman.

"He is so dynamic, explosive and versatile – a model player in today's NBA game.

"He did whatever we asked at a very high level. I loved having him and his family in our program and wish him all the best as his professional career begins."

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