The Duke Blue Devils will be losing five-star freshman Jalen Johnson, who opted out of the remaining NCAA season. The Blue Devils have had a bad year and look to be out of the running for the NCAA tournament. Johnson’s decision to leave Duke has been criticized by many. It has also led to speculation that there may be more to why Jalen left Duke.
NCAA Analyst Jeff Goodman has spoken about what exactly was the thought process behind this decision.
“The biggest problem, and we heard this from Coach K. The biggest problem that they had with Jalen Johnson was that he didn’t play hard consistently. He showed it in flashes, but he didn’t play hard consistently. That’s why Coach K played him 8 minutes the other night.”
Goodman added, “All these guys knew Jalen Johnson wasn’t bought in. In defense of him, it’s his call. He has a lot of people around him telling him ‘If you play 8 minutes a game, your draft stock will keep on falling, so you’ve gotta get outta here while you can do protect your draft stock, make sure you’re still a first-round pick.”
Jalen Johnson was projected to be a lottery pick in the draft. However, this incident may make people question his mental toughness. Johnson also bounced around high-school teams, infamously not playing for the IMG Academy after transferring to the school to play basketball.
READ MORE: Who is in the 2021 NBA Draft Class?
His talent is undeniable, but his character will raise questions for everyone. While one cannot fault someone for having their personal best interests as a priority all the time, it may not be the thing NBA scouts are looking for.
Johnson hasn’t had a spectacular season on the court either, averaging 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds. The Blue Devils are 8-8 and many are assuming that this change could help Duke find some form again. Johnson’s energy was considered to be negative, and now that has been taken care of. It won’t look good for Jalen if Duke go on a run now.