Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Duke's Kyrie Irving to enter NBA Draft;Henson and Zeller return for UNC

By: Kevin Duffy

Duke freshman Kyrie Irving announced on Wednesday that he has plans to hire an agent and will enter the NBA Draft. He is likely a top-five pick and could go as high as No. 1 in June’s draft.

“Our whole program is overjoyed with having Kyrie here for one year and that he has the chance now to pursue a dream of being a high draft pick and a great player in the NBA,” said Krzyzewski. “We are totally supportive of Kyrie, his family and his decision. We look forward to continuing to work with him during the upcoming months leading to his entry into the NBA and afterwards while he is an NBA player. He is a great young man, a terrific student, and a truly amazing representative for our program and for Duke. We love him and are very happy for him and his family.”

Irving, a 6-foot-2 point guard, played in just 11 games this season because of a injured toe on his right foot. He missed 26 games before returning in the NCAA tournament, where Duke lost to Arizona in the Sweet 16.

Irving averaged 17.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game this season, cementing himself as one of the top players in the country.

“I want to thank the entire staff at Duke, especially the coaches,” said Irving. “It was a great experience playing for Coach K. He taught me a lot about the game. Even when I was hurt, I learned a lot. Also a special thanks goes to the medical staff for getting me back on the court for the NCAA Tournament and my teammates for sticking with me throughout the entire year. Duke offered me an experience I could never have imagined.”

“This was a special year for me. I love everything about Duke and I’m going to miss it,” added Irving. ”Duke has a special place in my heart. Even though I’m leaving this year, Duke will always be in my mind and my heart. I’m going to miss putting on that No. 1 jersey.”

Meanwhile, up the road in Chapel Hill, both John Henson and Tyler Zeller said they would stay with the Tar Heels for the 2011-12 season.

With Henson and Zeller returning, the only questions surround forward Harrison Barnes. UNC coach Roy Williams said Barnes and his family were still looking into information about his potential place in the NBA draft this summer.

"John and Tyler certainly considered their options, but in the end it came down to how much they enjoyed not only college basketball, but being part of the collegiate experience both on and off the court," Williams said in a press release from the school. "I spoke to about 10 NBA teams on their behalf and gave them that information, but their individual decisions are less about the NBA and more about what they wanted to do right now and the experiences they are enjoying at the University of North Carolina."

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