Freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. became the fifth and final starter from Duke's 2017-18 squad to declare himself eligible for the 2018 National Basketball Association draft Monday.

 

The 6-foot-10, 259-pounder from Atlanta joins freshman teammates Marvin Bagley III, Gary Trent and Trevon Duval, plus senior guard Grayson Allen in the field for the 2018 draft scheduled June 21 in Brooklyn, New York.

 

Carter enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign with the Blue Devils, averaging 13.5 points and ranking fourth among Atlantic Coast Conference players with a 9.1 rebound average. His 335 total rebound and 76 blocked shots ranked second all-time among Duke freshmen.

 

“It was such an honor to coach Wendell,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement released by the school. “He and his family were a true joy to have in our program and they’ll always be in our program. He had a sensational freshman year – a double-double guy – and he has so much more potential. He’s going to keep getting better, because he’s talented and he has the best attitude. He really represented himself, his family and Duke in a first-class manner, and whoever gets him is going to be very lucky.”

 

Carter is the 16th Duke freshman since 1999 to declare for the NBA draft, including Bagley, Duval and Trent. Of the 12 others who were previously drafted, 11 were selected in the first round and eight were among the top 10 taken. Kyrie Irving was the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Every pre-draft projection has Carter joining that group of first rounders from Duke and most have him being taken in the first 10 picks. SportsIllustrated.com predicts Carter will be taken seventh overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Gary Parrish of CBS.com has him going ninth to the New York Knicks.

 

Carter helped Duke to a 29-8 record this season and a trip to the NCAA tournament's Final Four where the Blue Devils were eliminated by Kansas, 85-81.

 

“I want to thank Duke University, my coaches and teammates for helping me so much, not only on the court, but off it as well,” Carter said. We’re all brothers, we all have each other’s’ backs. I’m really going to miss being around my friends, but I’m really going to cherish the moments we had together. I’m very excited and very happy to say I was part of something special here at Duke.”

 

Staff writer Sammy Batten can be reached at sbatten@fayobserver.com or 486-3534.