Jalen Johnson: another Duke one and done
SUN. | 03-14-21 | SPORTS
Jalen Johnson, a top recruited basketball player for Duke University, has just announced his decision to opt out for the remainder of the season. While this may come as a shock to many, I expected nothing less from a potential National Basketball Association (NBA) lottery pick who doesn't want to risk an injury. Duke basketball is recognized for their elite players every year, however, it is evident that this year's team is struggling to work together as a unit.
Johnson as a high school player was ranked 94th in the nation and first in his home state of Wisconsin. Colleges were fawning over him trying to get him to sign, but as soon as the legendary Duke Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski came to him, no other coaches stood a chance. Johnson started off super hot in his first four college games with Duke, averaging 11.5 points and 8.3 rebounds. Johnson may have been standing out as a promising rookie, but Duke was having a worse season than usual. After 10 games the team was 5-5 and things weren't looking good.
Johnson took a bad fall Dec. 8, 2020 vs the #5 Illinois fighting illini. He injured his foot and was forced to sit out for the next three games.
“Jalen Johnson's foot injury could be a major factor in his career if not dealt with properly,” Coach Krzyzewski said.
After this injury, Johnson was not getting the minutes that he was used to. His first game back Jan. 12, 2021 was against #18 Virginia Tech
Graphic by Avery Hall
Hokies, a very strong team thus far in the season. Coach Krzyzewski put him in for four minutes then was taken out for the remainder of the game. Duke lost 74-67. After this tough loss, Duke went on a three game losing streak which hasn't happened since 1996.
After Duke’s loss to Notre Dame, putting them at a losing record of 7-8, Jalen Johnson decided to opt out for the remainder of the season. A player with this much potential is likely looking more towards the NBA than the March Madness Tournament. I can't say I agree with him leaving his team however I do understand him not wanting to get injured and throw away his career. This hurt a lot of Duke fans because he was obviously the best player on the court and this change may affect their teams chances of getting into the tournament.
"I know he's getting a lot of crap on social media, but he's part of us,” Said Hurt. “He did what's best for him, and we're all proud of him," teammate Matthew Hurt said.
While Duke fans all over the nation are hating and calling Johnson a quitter, his teammates and his coaches have his back in his decision. Even with Johnson gone, Duke basketball has been on the rise with two wins defeating Wake Forest Wednesday, Feb. 17 and #15 Virginia Saturday, Feb. 20.
Johnson’s absence has turned the spotlight to a couple of his other teammates who have taken on leadership roles. Duke has proven that they can win without him and hopefully fans will ease off of Johnson for his decision for now. With Johnson out for the remainder of the season, this has left him to train for the upcoming 2021 NBA draft. Even with him leaving his team, Johnson still has a good chance of being top ten in the draft.