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Duke star Jalen Johnson opts out of season

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Johnson is still widely projected as a first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This has been a season to forget for the blue-blooded programs of college basketball, and that includes the Duke Blue Devils.

Now 8-8 and sitting at 66th in the latest NET rankings, it was going to be very difficult for Duke to make the NCAA Tournament this season.

Well, that just got even more challenging after star freshman Jalen Johnson opted out of the season, according to Stadium reporter Jeff Goodman. There was apparently some friction between Johnson’s camp and Duke, so this may have been a mutual decision.

Johnson, the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2020, was someone the Kentucky Wildcats recruited and even offered before he landed at Duke. He’s averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game this season.

However, Johnson played just eight minutes in Saturday’s win over NC State and scored three points. He has just 11 points over his last two games.

Despite the struggles, Johnson is still widely projected as a first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, so part of his decision to opt out was likely to preserve his current stock.