Jahlil Okafor will enter the 2015 NBA Draft, head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Thursday. Okafor, a consensus first team All-America selection, joins Corey Maggette (1999), Luol Deng (2004), Kyrie Irving (2011), Austin Rivers (2012) and Jabari Parker (2014) as Blue Devil freshmen to enter the NBA Draft after just one season of college basketball. The five previous freshmen early entrees were each selected among the first 13 players in their respective drafts, including Irving, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.DURHAM, N.C. – Duke freshman
“What a great decision!” said Krzyzewski. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Jahlil and he has earned it. Obviously, he has done an incredible job here at Duke and he will always be a part of our Duke basketball family. We could not be happier for him and his family.”
Okafor, the 17th consensus first team All-America selection under Krzyzewski, helped lead Duke to a 35-4 record and the program’s fifth NCAA Championship. He averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game while collecting numerous honors including National Freshman of the Year and ACC Player & Freshman of the Year. Okafor is the first freshman in league history to be named ACC Player of the Year.
Okafor ranked eighth in the nation in field goal percentage (.664) and 19th in the country in offensive rebounds (3.53 orpg.). The Chicago native set Duke freshman records for double-figure scoring games (35), total rebounds (322), offensive rebounds (134) and dunks (64). Okafor scored 20 or more points 14 times, including a season-high 30 points in an overtime win at Virginia Tech. He added 11 double-doubles and secured five or more offensive rebounds in 11 contests. On Dec. 15, Okafor became just the third freshman in ACC history, and the first since Joe Smith in 1994, to score 20-plus points and bring down 20 or more rebounds in the same game.
“As early as I can remember, I've fantasized and dreamed of the day that I could play professional basketball,” said Okafor. “ I recall at the age of six, promising my mom and dad that when I made it to the NBA I would buy them both different colored trucks. They would laugh with me in support and encouraged me to dream big and work hard. With that being said and now at the age of 19, my dream is still alive! My freshman year has been an amazing experience to say the least. It exceeded my expectations! I love Cameron and Duke University! I can't thank my coaches, teammates and family enough for making this year so special and helping me grow on and off the court. With Coach K's and my family's blessing I will be fulfilling my life-long dream and proudly entering my name into the NBA draft.”
In NCAA Tournament play, Okafor averaged a team-best 15.0 points on 63.5 percent shooting from the field. He also contributed 5.7 rebounds per game with 10 blocked shots. Okafor scored 47 points on the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the most points by a Duke freshman in the first two games of the tournament. Okafor scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting and added six rebounds, two blocks and two steals in Duke’s national semifinal win over Michigan State. He battled foul trouble throughout the title game victory over Wisconsin and finished with just 10 points, but scored two key baskets during Duke’s 12-5 run over the final 4:06 of play.
Duke has produced a first round selection in the NBA Draft in each of the past four years. Krzyzewski has mentored 28 first round picks, including 18 lottery selections. The 2015 NBA Draft will take place Thursday, June 25 in New York City.