Duke’s Wendell Carter announces he’s entering NBA draft, likely Top 10 pick

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Duke’s loaded roster didn’t go as deep as they — or Blue Devil’s faithful — hoped in the NCAA Tournament. Now, as expected, many of their key players from this run are headed to the NBA. Marvin Bagley III, Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval all declared, and senior Grayson Allen is headed to the pros as well.

Now big man Wendell Carter has joined the group, making the announcement Monday.

“I want to thank Duke University, my coaches and teammates for helping me so much, not only on the court, but off it as well,” said Carter. We’re all brothers, we all have each other’s’ backs. I’m really going to miss being around my friends, but I’m really going to cherish the moments we had together. I’m very excited and very happy to say I was part of something special here at Duke.”

Carter is expected to go in the 5-10 range of the lottery.

Carter, 6’10” and projected as an NBA center, averaged 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game for Duke last season. He’s physical and likes to bang inside, his game is a bit old-school that way, but he also started last season to show the skills of a modern NBA big — he only took 1.3 threes a game at Duke but hit 41 percent of them. Defensively he’s got a 7’3″ wingspan he can block shots in the paint and protect the rim, and he plays with a high basketball IQ. He knows how to play to his strengths as a bruiser.

What he’s not is an explosive athlete or a guy with quick feet (Mike Krzyzewski played zone at Duke this season in part because he couldn’t trust Bagley and Carter in man-to-man). He is athletic, he can finish around the rim, but he’s not elite at it. He’s going to have to show he can develop as a guy who is a threat on the roll or the pop after setting a pick.

Carter is going to go top 10 in this draft and get his chance at the next level, and if you’re going to go that high you should come out after your freshman season as he did.