Duke shooting guard Luke Kennard is joining his teammate Jayson Tatum in declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft.
The school announced Thursday afternoon Kennard will enter the upcoming draft and sign with an agent, meaning he will not be eligible to return to Duke.
"After considerable reflection, prayer and consultation with my family and coaches, I have decided to take the next step in pursuing my basketball dreams by entering the NBA Draft," Kennard said in a release. "Being a member of the Duke Basketball brotherhood is always going to be special to me. I have nothing but love and respect for everyone in the Duke program. I want to thank my coaches, teammates, the best fans in the game and everyone in Franklin for being by my side every step of this journey.
"I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, but I’m confident that I’m ready and have a great foundation for success at the NBA level."
Kennard was not viewed by many (or maybe any) NBA scouts as a possible first-round pick entering his sophomore season, but he averaged 19.5 points per game while shooting 48.9 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from 3-point range and 85.6 percent from the free-throw line. He hit double-figure scoring in all but two of Duke's 37 games this season and led the team to the ACC Tournament championship, winning MVP honors.
His consistent shooting and passing coupled with his ability to play off the ball has propelled him into the top-20 range in most mock drafts. It's a smart move for Kennard to capitalize on his breakout season when his stock is at its peak.
As for the Blue Devils, coach Mike Krzyzewskihas a lot of work to do following the loss of Kennard. Duke must replace talent and scoring fromKennard and Tatumas well as leadership fromseniors Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones. There hasn't been any word on the draft status of junior guard Grayson Allen, though he still has until the April 23 deadline to declare. Sporting News' Ryan Fagan had Duke at No. 2 in his way-too-early Top 25prior to Kennard declaring for the draft, but seeing Kennard and Allen leave the program in the next month could drop the Blue Devilsoutside of the top 10.