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4 Duke Blue Devils picked in first round of 2022 NBA Draft

NBA Draft Basketball
John Minchillo
Paolo Banchero, right, is congratulated by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number one pick overall by the Orlando Magic in the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in New York.

Thursday night was a celebratory evening for Duke’s men’s basketball program.

In New York, four Blue Devils were selected in the first round the 2022 NBA Draft – more than any other college team in this year’s draft. Duke last had four players selected in the first round in 1999, with Elton Brand leading the way as the No. 1 overall pick.

A Duke player was taken with the top selection this year too, as the Orlando Magic chose Blue Devils’ freshman Paolo Banchero.

The 6-foot-10 forward from Seattle, Washington, averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per-game in his lone collegiate campaign, leading Duke to the Final Four in the final season on the bench for longtime Blue Devils’ coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Banchero earned All-American honors and was named ACC Freshman of the Year during his short stint in Durham.

“We feel he was the best player in college basketball,” Magic President Jeff Weltman told the AP. “And we feel that he will continue to grow every year for many years to come.”

Duke players continued to come off the board later in the first round. The Charlotte Hornets used their first round pick on Duke center Mark Williams at No. 15. Then, with the very next pick, the Atlanta Hawks selected his teammate, AJ Griffin. With the 26th pick, Wendell Moore Jr. rounded out Duke’s first round selections as he was chosen by the Dallas Mavericks.

Williams, a 7-foot-1 sophomore – with a 7-foot-6 wingspan – was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year this past season after averaging 11.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per-game. The Hornets are coming off a season in which they made the NBA’s play-in game for the playoffs, but fired their head coach, James Borrego, after losing it. Charlotte is still without a head coach.

Virginia Tech Duke Basketball
Ben McKeown
Virginia Tech's Keve Aluma (22) drives against Duke's Mark Williams (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021.

“(Williams) made great strides in his first couple years at Duke,” Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak told the AP. “He gives us great size with rim protection and he rebounds the ball a little bit. He’s a good athlete and has great length.”

Williams blocked a total of 110 shots last season, which was the fifth-most in the country. He also missed just seven shots in Duke’s NCAA tournament run, shooting 80.6% from the floor, which is a Duke program record.

Like Banchero, Griffin spent just one season at Duke. As a freshman, he quickly established himself as one of the country’s top three-point shooters, making 44.7% of his shots from behind the arc, which was fourth-best in the nation.

Moore, a native of Charlotte, spent three seasons at Duke and was a team captain this past season. He was also voted as the winner of the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award after averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per-game.

In the second round, Duke’s Trevor Keels was selected by the New York Knicks with the 42nd overall pick.

The only other player from a North Carolina school taken in the draft was Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia, who was selected with the 19th overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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