Providence native David Duke has declared for NBA Draft
By KEVIN McNAMARA
It’s time for David Duke to explore his NBA dreams.
The junior guard from the Elmhurst section of Providence announced via Twitter Friday that he’s ready to explore his chances of a professional career. It appears he’s hired an agent and ruled out a return to college.
“Dear FriarTown, after much thought, consideration and prayer, I’ve decided to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft and begin my professional career,” the accompanying video begins. Check out Duke’s post for his full message to PC’s fans.
Providence College issued a release where coach Ed Cooley is quoted as saying “we are appreciative of everything that David has done for our men’s basketball program. David has always had a goal of playing in the NBA. He is taking another step toward that goal and we wish him all the best. Over the past three seasons, David has worked very hard to improve himself and help make our team better. He has always represented the program in a first-class manner. We look forward to watching his professional career and seeing all the great things that he will achieve.”
The NBA Draft is set a bit later than usual this summer and will take place July 29. The deadline for an early entry player to apply for this year’s Draft is May 30. Players can withdraw up until July 19 and return to school but it appears Duke is set to move on from school at this point.
Duke enjoyed a breakout junior season with the Friars, finishing second on the team in scoring at 16.8 ppg. He was fourth overall in the Big East in scoring. The 6-5 guard ranked first in the league in minutes played at 37.1 per game and also averaged 6.3 rebounds per game, which was second best on the squad. Duke shot 39 percent from the field, including 39 percent (51-131) from three-point territory.
Duke’s inconsistency, however, was a consistent theme to his time at Providence. Despite exploding for 28 or more points on four occasions this past season, Duke was also held to single digits four times. He set career highs in both assists (124/4.8 per game) and turnovers (82/3.1 per game). NBA scouts see him as a potential lock-down defender but while the various `Mock Draft’ on the internet are usually only filled with opinion from mildly-informed journalists, Duke is hardly seen as a sure-fire first round pick.
With Duke leaving the PC program, the Friars can rely on rising senior A.J. Reeves and incoming graduate transfer Al Durham at the off-guard position. Jared Bynum, Brycen Goodine and Alyn Breed are the other guards in PC’s program and it appears Cooley is continuing to look for veteran help at the guard position via the transfer portal.
PC is talking with several guard options, most notably Florida shooter guard Noah Locke and Cumberland’s Tyler Kolek, who is looking to leave George Mason after winning the Atlantic 10’s Rookie of the Year award. The Friars have also reportedly made contact with Indiana’s Jordan Geronimo, Florida International’s Antonio Daye and Syracuse’s Kadary Richmond, among others.
While Duke’s draftability is far from a certainty, fans should hold off on questioning the 21-year old’s thinking. While a spot in the first round would be worth a guaranteed, multi-million dollar contract, NBA rosters have now expanded to 15 players. Teams are also able to sign two more players to `two-way’ deals where a player can shuttle between the G League and the NBA.
Duke is certainly a candidate to be selected in the 60-player, two round Draft. In the 2020 Draft, for example, the following players were more than happy to be leaving college for pro dollars:
Pick 48. Nico Mannion – Fr. PG, Arizona. Picked by Golden St., signed to 1-year, $450,000 deal.
Pick 52. Kenyon Martin, Jr. – F, High school prospect skipped college, picked by Houston. Signed 3-year, $4.1 million deal, $895k guaranteed.
Pick 58. Paul Reed – Soph., F, DePaul. Picked by 76`ers. Signed 3-year, $3.9 million deal, $610 guaranteed.