Duke basketball’s Trevor Keels declares for NBA draft

Dukes Trevor Keels (1) drives past North Carolina's Caleb Love (2) during the second half of Dukes 87-67 victory over UNC at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC, Saturday, Feb.  5, 2022.

Dukes Trevor Keels (1) drives past North Carolina’s Caleb Love (2) during the second half of Dukes 87-67 victory over UNC at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022.

ehyman@newsobserver.com

Though in and out of Duke’s starting lineup this season, Trevor Keels wants to see if he’s ready for the NBA.

The 6-foot-5, 221-pound guard declared for the NBA draft on Saturday, where he’s projected to be selected either late in the first round or during the second round.

Keels did not indicate whether he’ll permanently leave college basketball or retain his eligibility with the option of returning for his sophomore season.

Duke is already assured of losing three of the six players who started games last season, when the Blue Devils went 32-7 to win the ACC regular-season championship and reach the Final Four.

Keels joins 7-1 sophomore center Mark Williams, 6-10 freshman Paolo Banchero and 6-5 junior forward Wendell Moore in announcing plans to enter this summer’s NBA draft pool. A fifth player, 6-6 freshman forward AJ Griffin, is expected to join him since he’s a projected top-10 pick.

The NBA deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is Sunday night. Players who wish to return to college basketball must withdraw from the draft by 11:59 pm on June 1.

Banchero, Griffin, Moore and Williams have no intentions of returning to Duke next season.

Guard Jeremy Roach is returning for his junior season after starting all five of Duke’s NCAA tournament games during the run to the Final Four.

While Williams, Banchero, Griffin and Moore each started all eight of Duke’s ACC and NCAA tournament games, Keels was a reserve in the postseason. His size and ball-handling ability, as well as the perimeter shooting he displayed at times this season, make him an intriguing prospect for NBA scouts.

NBA draft projections have Keels going either late in the first round or early in the second round. Duke’s other four players who have entered the draft are solidly projected as first-round picks.

Keels started 26 games for Duke, while coming off the bench and playing in 10 other games. He averaged 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while making 41.9% of his shots, including 31.9% of 3-pointers.

Though not a starter, Keels turned into a solid performance in his final college game. When North Carolina beat Duke, 81-77, in the national semifinals on April 2 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Keels scored 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting.

His top performance came on Feb. 10 when Duke won, 82-64, at Clemson. Keels scored 25 points, including 23 in the second half, while making 9 of 13 shots, grabbing 11 rebounds and not committing a turnover.

If Keels stays in the draft and leaves Duke, the Blue Devils will have only three scholarship players – the 6-1 Roach, 6-7 reserve forward Joey Baker and 6-2 guard Jaylen Blakes – returning next season.

Keels’ announcement has Duke actively seeking an experienced guard via the transfer portal. The Blue Devils are also seeking to add a veteran big man.

In addition to the five departures to professional basketball, reserves Bates Jones and Theo John have exhausted their eligibility.

Michael Savarino, a former walk-on who was on scholarship last season, put his name in the transfer portal this week. Another former walk-on who was on scholarship last season, Keenan Worthington, is mulling a similar move.

Duke has six incoming freshmen in 7-1 center Derek Lively, 6-11 center Kyle Filipowski, 6-8 forward Mark Mitchell, 6-6 small forward Dariq Whitehead, 6-5 shooting guard Jaden Schutt and 7-1 center Christian Reeves.

This story was originally published April 23, 2022 4:39 PM.

Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. He placed second in both beat writing and breaking news in the 2019 Associated Press Sports Editors national contest. Previously, Steve worked for The State (Columbia, SC), Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC), The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), Charlotte Observer and Hickory (NC) Daily Record covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the SC General Assembly. He has won numerous state-level press association awards. Steve graduated from Illinois State University in 1989.

.

Leave a Comment