DURHAM, N.C. — Cassius Stanley is taking his high-flying game to the NBA following one season at Duke.
The 6-foot-6 forward who averaged 12.6 points per game and thrilled fans with acrobatic dunks all season announced Tuesday he’s entering his name in the NBA draft.
“As much as I feel a burning desire to make another run at the Final Four, I feel compelled to make the best decision for my professional success, and therefore, I have decided to enter the 2020 NBA Draft,” Stanley said in a video posted on his Twitter feed. “I want to thank Coach K, the entire Duke coaching staff and my teammates for all their support. I also want to thank our trainers, strength coaches, managers, administrative staff, and academic support staff. Last but not least, thanks to the Crazies and Duke fans all over the world for helping to make this past year the most fun I’ve ever had playing the sport we all love.”
The Los Angeles native was Duke’s third-leading scorer this season behind freshman center Vernon Carey (17.8) and sophomore point guard Tre Jones (16.2). Jones declared for the NBA Draft last month and Carey is expected to do the same.
“It was an absolute joy to coach Cassius this season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement released by Duke. “I want to congratulate him and his great family on this decision. I’ve seen Cassius grow both as a player and person here at Duke, and I can’t wait to see how his career develops at the next level. Any NBA team will be very fortunate to get such a mature young man who is not only an incredibly-gifted athlete, but a leader that wants nothing but the best for himself and his teammates.”
The 20-year-old Stanley is projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick.
He was a starter in all 29 games he played for the Blue Devils (25-6) last season. He missed two other games with injuries (knee, eye).
Stanley proved to be a strong defender and an effective jump shooter and rebounder. His 4.9 rebounds per game were second only to Carey’s 8.8. Stanley made 47.4% of his shots, including 36% of his 3-point attempts.
“I feel blessed to have worn the Duke jersey and choosing Duke was the best decision of my life,” Stanley said. “I have grown physically, emotionally, as a person, and as a basketball player. Since I was a young teen, my dream was to play in the NBA and have a great career. Upon joining The Brotherhood, my immediate goal became helping our team reach the Final Four and contend for a national title. I truly believe that is exactly what would have happened if our season wasn’t interrupted.”
Even with Stanley’s departure plus Alex O’Connell’s transfer and Jack White’s graduation, Duke remains well-stocked at wing next season.
The Blue Devils return 6-7 junior Joey Baker and two sophomores — 6-6 Wendell Moore and 6-9 Matthew Hurt.
The incoming freshman class includes five-star recruits in 6-8 small forward Jalen Johnson and 6-3 guard DJ Steward.
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