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Former Sun Prairie basketball player Jalen Johnson declares for NBA draft after leaving Duke early

Former Sun Prairie basketball player Jalen Johnson declares for NBA draft after leaving Duke early

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Jalen Johnson’s time playing men’s basketball at Duke University has ended during his freshman season.

Johnson now has set his sights on the NBA.

Duke forward Johnson — a former prep standout at Sun Prairie and Glendale Nicolet — announced he will forgo the rest of this freshman season and declare of the 2021 NBA draft, according to a release from Duke on Monday night.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Johnson is currently ranked as the No. 6 NBA draft prospect by ESPN.com.

Johnson played in 13 games at Duke, including eight starts. He was third on the team in scoring, averaging 11.2 points per game, and second in rebounding (6.1 boards per game).

"I appreciate everything about my time at Duke," Johnson said in a statement. "Coach K, 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 percent 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 chose Duke over the University of Wisconsin, Kentucky and Arizona in July, 2019.

"While we are encouraged by what we are seeing medically, for Jalen's future, we believe this decision is in his best interest," Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said in the release.

"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."

Johnson opened his Duke career with a 19-point, 19-rebound game against Coppin State. He was 8-for-8 from the field, which set a Duke freshman record for most points in a game on 100% shooting.

He was bothered by a foot injury this season. Johnson missed several games at the beginning of his sophomore season at Sun Prairie with a left foot injury, which he said was a stress fracture, and returned in the Cardinals’ seventh game the 2017-18 season.

He missed three games with the foot injury this season. He returned with an outstanding game at Pittsburgh, totaling 24 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots, with no turnovers. He twice was named Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Week. He was the ACC's second-leading freshman scorer to teammate D.J. Steward.

His decision came after he played eight minutes and scored three points in Duke’s 69-53 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday. Initial reports Monday indicated Johnson was “opting out” of his freshman season.

Johnson helped lead Sun Prairie to the 2018 WIAA Division 1 state semifinals in boys basketball during his sophomore season prior to transferring to Nicolet with his younger brother, Kobe Johnson.

Jalen Johnson earned first-team all-state honors and was The Associated Press boys basketball player of the year as a junior, while helping Nicolet win the Division 2 championship in March, 2019, at the Kohl Center.

Johnson attended IMG Academy in Florida and Nicolet as a senior.

The Blue Devils have had at least one player selected in 33 of 40 drafts under Krzyzewski, who has tutored a total of 67 draft picks since taking over the Duke program, including a draft-record 41 first-round selections, according to the Duke release.


Photos: Lock back at Jalen Johnson's career so far

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