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RANDOLPH GONE FOR GOOD

Shavlik Randolph’s career of donning Duke Blue came to a premature ending Tuesday.

Randolph decided to remain eligible for the NBA draft June 28, forfeiting the chance to return to Duke for his senior season despite an unclear future.

He informed the coaching staff of his decision Tuesday afternoon, Duke Sports Information Director Jon Jackson confirmed. Early-entry candidates had until 5 p.m. June 21 to withdraw their names from the NBA draft and maintain their college eligibility.

“Obviously there’s an element of uncertainty and doubt,” Randolph told the Associated Press. “But there’s an old saying that the reward is in the journey, and I’m a firm believer in that. I definitely know I’ve got one heck of a journey in front of me.”

Randolph has not yet signed with an agent, but he told the News & Observer he planned to explore his representation options within a few days.

Randolph first announced he would declare for the draft May 13, and at the time his father said his intentions were to return to school. Kenny Randolph said his son was using the opportunity as a chance to hear feedback from NBA scouts in order to prepare him better for the process next summer. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski said he supported Randolph, although he would not have made the same decision at this time if he were Randolph.

“My intentions are to come back to Duke because I think we’ll have a chance to do something special next year,” Randolph told the AP after a workout with the Charlotte Bobcats June 6. “I don’t want to rule out any options, but that’s been my intention all along.”

Randolph said NBA teams would have to express serious interest to sway his decision. He told the N&O he had heard positive remarks after workouts with five NBA teams but refused to elaborate.

“I wouldn’t be making this decision if I wasn’t hearing good things,” Randolph told the N&O Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Randolph’s name still does not appear on most mock draft boards, and with an average of only 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game throughout his career it is unknown if he will be one of the 60 players selected in next week’s draft.

“He’s not going to be a first round draft pick, and he may not be a second round draft pick, but you never know with the second round because someone late could pick a tall guy,” Krzyzewski said June 12. “If he gets word of that, and he feels that’s good and he wants to go then good luck.”

By turning professional, Randolph gives up the chance to be a member of a national-title contending team next season. The Blue Devils return four seniors and add one of the top recruiting classes in the country, which includes highly-touted big man Josh McRoberts. The freshman was expected to compete with Randolph for minutes.

“I know that team will be No. 1 with or without me next season,” Randolph told the N&O. “I’ll be rooting for them hard. I wish I could be a part of it, but I’m moving on, and I won’t have that opportunity.”

Krzyzewski said that if Randolph had chosen to return to school, that he would have to “be on our mission.”

The Raleigh native told the AP he was six credits short of graduation and that his parents supported his decision so long as he promised to complete his degree.

As a senior at Broughton High School in Raleigh, Randolph was a McDonald’s All-American and was one of the most prized recruits of his class. However, injuries and illness throughout his Duke career have hindered his production.

If Randolph does not hear his name called next week, he can still be invited to try out for NBA teams during the summer as a free agent. Other options include playing in the NBA’s Development League or a professional league overseas.

“I prayed a lot about it, and unless you’re a person of faith that comment is probably irrelevant,” Randolph told the N&O. “It’s my dream to play in the NBA, and I’m going for it.”

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