Gerald Henderson will enter his name into the NBA Draft without an agent, leaving open the possibility of returning for his senior year at Duke, he announced in a statement Saturday. Duke's leading scorer has until June 16 to pull his name from the draft pool and retain his eligibility.
"Playing in the NBA has been a goal of mine since a young age, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity," Henderson said in a statement. "My three years at Duke have been a tremendous learning experience and have helped me develop both as a person and as a player.”
Last year, Henderson topped all Blue Devils scorers, averaging 16.5 points per game and 19.8 points per game in conference play. His 4.9 rebounds per game were good for second-best on the team, and he was named 1st-team All-ACC and earned numerous All-American honors for his breakout season. He scored a career-high 35 points against Wake Forest Feb. 22, but ended the season with just seven points on 1-of-14 shooting in Duke's NCAA Tournament loss to Villanova.
Henderson, a projected shooting guard in the NBA, could become the first Duke player since Josh McRoberts in 2007 to forego eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. He is the first Blue Devil to test the waters since Shavlik Randolph did so in 2005.
"We had great conversations about his NBA prospects and we are 100 percent behind his decision," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Gerald is coming off a great season and he has an extremely bright future as a professional. We are ready to help him in any and every way during this process."
Most mock drafts project Henderson to be selected anywhere from the 7th pick to the 12th pick, which would make him Duke's first lottery pick since 2006. He is widely projected to be the first ACC player selected in the NBA Draft, slated for June 25 in Madison Square Garden.
Scouts see Henderson's strengths as his athleticism, his off-ball defending, his explosive first step and his high character, and his weaknesses as a lack of consistent shooting, questions about NBA range, his ability to go left and his size, said Paul Haagen, chair of the Student-Athlete Counseling Committee.
"He is regarded as someone who can go mid-to-late lottery, but there are a lot of people who can go mid-to-late lottery," Haagen said. "A successful draft would be one in which he is picked high and has a substantial amount of guaranteed money, but the next part is really more important: that he goes to a team that needs him and plays a style conducive both to his current skills and skills you expect him to develop in a good system.... It will be an unsuccessful draft if he goes very high to a team that misuses him, and that happens to people."
The lottery for picks takes place May 19, and the order of teams could significantly impact Henderson.
If Henderson stays in the draft, he will follow in the footsteps of his father, Gerald Henderson Sr., who played for 13 years and won three NBA titles.
Regardless of whether he hires an agent, Henderson will focus on getting himself in peak physical condition over the next few weeks, because his draft stock could improve with good workouts, Haagen said. Unlike their typical behavior, scouts have shied away from comparing Henderson to NBA players because he is an unusually athletic player who burst onto the scene in his junior year but still has holes in his game. An agent would help Henderson schedule workouts and manage his schedule before negotiating a contract.
"As he's getting through this process and getting more information from teams, as information starts to harden and people are concentrated a little more clearly not on who might be in, but on everybody who's available, you can really start concentrating and getting the information harder," said Haagen, a law school professor who has guided most players from Duke to the NBA. "Then he will simply make himself comfortable or uncomfortable with what his position is.... At some point, he's either going to decide he doesn't want to go through with this, and that some point will be on or before the 16th of June, or I think he's likely to pick an agent and get the highest level of professional help."
Henderson's high school teammate, North Carolina's Wayne Ellington, also entered the NBA Draft pool, along with Tar Heel point guard Ty Lawson. Without Henderson, the Blue Devils still retain four starters from a 30-7 team, but lose their most explosive player.
Check back with The Chronicle's Sports Blog and The Chronicle for more updates about Henderson's draft status.
- Gerald Henderson on The Chronicle’s Sports Blog
- Committee helps guide future pros
- Students join Facebook group for Henderson
- After NCAA Tournament loss, Henderson ‘uncertain’ about status
- Duke sources deny Henderson report
- Towerview: What is 'G'?
- Henderson dunk at Maryland
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.