Duke freshman Jalen Johnson has opted out of the rest of the 2020–21 season, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
Johnson, a five-star recruit out of IMG Academy, joined the Blue Devils in 2020 as the No. 13 player in the class of 2020, per the 247Sports composite rankings. He averaged 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game with Duke, shooting 52.3 percent from the field.
With an inexperienced roster, Jalen Johnson and Duke have struggled throughout the unprecedented season. The team sits at 8-8 on the season and placed 8th in conference play. The team will likely miss the 2021 NCAA March Madness Tournament. The program’s last tournament miss was in 1995.
Johnson had lost his spot in the Blue Devils’ starting lineup earlier this month after a 91-87 loss against North Carolina. In his final game with the team on Saturday, Johnson logged just eight minutes as a reserve, scoring three points in a 16-point win over the NC State Wolfpack.
Reports say the 6-foot-9 forward had packed up his belongings and left campus on Monday morning. In the statement announced that night, the five-star Duke commit said that he was opting out of the rest of the season to get ready for this summer’s NBA draft.
He said his decision was based on getting “100% healthy in preparation for the NBA Draft.” Although it was not an easy decision, it was the best decision for his future.
Many in the basketball community have voiced their opinion on the 19-year old’s decision to opt out 3 weeks prior to the end of the season. Jon Rothstein, a well-known college basketball insider for CBS Sports, was one of the first to call Johnson a quitter.
"Opting Out" with three weeks left in the regular season isn't opting out.
It's quitting. https://t.co/XFU2E1avNR
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 15, 2021
Others in the community have had mixed thoughts on his choice. Some agree with Rothstein’s tweet, stating that this decision displays his true character as someone who “gives up.” Some have defended the athlete, stating that it’s his right to make this decision and look out for himself.
Jalen Johnson played for there high schools in three years. He bolted from IMG Academy and took himself out of consideration for the McDonald's game. So this is nothing new. Will be interesting to see how much of a concern that history is for NBA teams.
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) February 16, 2021
Jalen Johnson will never be apart of “The Brotherhood” to me.
He QUIT on his brothers.
— DUKE FANS (@LifeOfADukeFan) February 16, 2021
Roy Williams: “Do you know what opting out means? It means you freakin' quit. Whether it's a team or an individual, opting out means you quit. And that bothers me."
— Ross Martin (@RossMartin_IC) February 15, 2021
CONGRATS TO JALEN JOHNSON FOR DOING WHATS BEST FOR HIM & HIS FAMILY. Don’t worry about what blog boys or disgraced former ESPN “reporters” have to say. You’re a top 5 pick & they’ll be laying click bait until draft night.
— BEAN 🏁🏁🏁 (@MGRADS) February 16, 2021
Jalen Johnson doesn’t owe Duke anythinghttps://t.co/Vx1oTikKgz
— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 16, 2021
“Not a great look”
“He’s too soft”
“Can’t handle being benched”
Not a single person saying these things have met Jalen Johnson. Not a single one knows what unfolded.
But get ya jokes off, I guess.
— Duke Update (@UpdateDuke) February 15, 2021
With Jalen Johnson readying himself for his future, the ceiling is high for the young prospect. As of now Johnson is a potential lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. According to ESPN, Johnson ranked No. 6 in its NBA draft rankings and the No. 1 small forward in the class.
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