Freshman Paolo Banchero has declared as an early entrant in the NBA Draft. The 6’10 freshman led the Blue Devils in scoring and in rebounding with 17.2 and 7.8 per game. He started all 39 games in his college career and now becomes a probable top 5 pick in the draft.
Banchero was named ACC Freshman of the year and was also named to the second team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and was a third-team pick by both the Associated Press and Sporting News. He became the 75th All-America selection in Duke program history and the 52nd under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K has had at least one All-American in 33 of his 42 seasons at Duke, including 14 of the last 15.
“Playing on some of the biggest stages in front of the best fans in the world with my brothers, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Banchero. “It was really a blessing. To Coach K, it was an honor to be a part of your final season. Thank you for pushing me every single day and expecting nothing but the best out of me. It has always been a dream of mine to play at Duke, and it has always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. Duke has prepared me for that on and off the court. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be entering my name in the 2022 NBA Draft. It has been a great journey and I’m blessed to be a part of The Brotherhood for life.”
In his lone season in Durham, Banchero proved to be among the nation’s top talents. The Seattle, Wash., native led all true freshmen nationally in scoring at 17.2 points per game while ranking sixth among true freshmen in rebounding (7.8) and fifth in field goal percentage (.478). His 12 double-doubles and 15 games of 20+ points were each the most by a power conference true freshman. With selections to the AP, NABC, Sporting News and USBWA All-America Teams, Banchero became the 33rd player in Duke history to earn consensus All-America status.
“Paolo had a truly incredible season and is absolutely ready to attack the next phase of his playing career,” said head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired following the season. “He put up remarkable numbers and won awards, but he always put the team first. Paolo is a great leader in that regard and someone all of our players admired, even though he was just a freshman. He is so dynamic, explosive and versatile – a model player in today’s NBA game. He did whatever we asked at a very high level. I loved having him and his family in our program and wish him all the best as his professional career begins.”
Banchero raised his level of play in the postseason, averaging 17.8 points on .541 shooting with 8.0 boards and 3.6 assists over eight games in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments while helping lead Duke to the Final Four. He had four double-doubles and three 20+ point outings in that stretch, garnering ACC All-Tournament, West Regional Most Outstanding Player and NCAA All-Tournament honors.
The freshman had several marquee performances throughout the regular season as well, led off by a 22-point, seven-rebound showing against Kentucky in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. He netted 21 points with five boards to lead Duke past top-ranked Gonzaga at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and registered three consecutive games of 20+ points to close out the regular season.
He was additionally named to the NABC and USBWA All-District Teams, was a first-team All-ACC pick and was on the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award.
The Blue Devils have had at least one player selected in 34 of 41 NBA Drafts under Krzyzewski. Coach K has tutored 68 draft picks since taking over the Duke program, including a Draft-record 42 first-round selections. A Duke freshman has been selected in each of the last eight Drafts.