Duke freshman Johnson to forgo rest of season, enter NBA draft
Andy Lyons / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Duke freshman forward Jalen Johnson has opted out of the rest of the 2020-21 season and will enter the 2021 NBA Draft, the school announced Monday.

"I appreciate everything about my time at Duke," Johnson said in a statement. "Coach (Mike Krzyzewski), my teammates, and the program have been nothing but supportive throughout this season, especially during the rehab of my foot injury. My family, Coach, and I have made the decision that I should not play the remainder of this season so I can be 100% healthy in preparation for the NBA draft.

"This was not easy but we feel it's best for my future. I have nothing but love for the Brotherhood and thank my teammates and everyone associated with the program. Duke will always have a special place in my heart and will always be a part of me."

Johnson and his camp have had unspecified off-court issues with the school since early in the campaign, Stadium's Jeff Goodman reports.

A consensus five-star prospect, Johnson was one of the Blue Devils' top recruits of the 2020 class. However, his minutes dropped recently. He played just 15 and eight minutes last week against Notre Dame and NC State, respectively. Johnson featured for a campaign-high 35 minutes during Duke's season-opening win over Coppin State on Nov. 28.

He also missed three games over a month this season due to a foot injury. After beginning the year as a starter, Johnson wasn't immediately reinserted into the starting lineup upon his return against Virginia Tech on Jan. 12.

He came off the bench again the next game but was named in the team's starting lineup the following four contests. However, he was again reduced to a reserve role during Duke's last three games.

"While we are encouraged by what we are seeing medically, for Jalen's future, we believe this is in his best interest," Krzyzewski said. "We are ultimately careful with every one of our players and will continue to support Jalen as he progresses toward his goal of playing professional basketball.

"He deserves to be fully healthy for the upcoming NBA draft."

ESPN currently ranks Johnson as the sixth-best player available in the 2021 draft, and The Athletic's Sam Vecenie projects him to go 10th overall.

Johnson averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks over 13 games (eight starts) this season.

Duke freshman Johnson to forgo rest of season, enter NBA draft
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox