After a short season and a long wait, Vernon Carey Jr. has finally made a decision regarding his future.
Per a release from the team Friday afternoon, Carey will be entering the 2020 Draft after one season as a Blue Devil. The Southwest Ranches, Fa., native’s decision makes him the third, and most likely final, Duke player to declare for this year’s NBA Draft, along with Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley.
"I am very thankful for the opportunities I've had my whole life to put on a basketball jersey and play at the highest level every step of the way," Carey said. "I've been able to do that because of the amazing support of my family, coaches and teammates. I'm lucky to have parents who have always encouraged me to dream big, and motivated me to compete with and challenge the best. We did that at Duke every day.
"I loved competing with my teammates on the biggest stage in college basketball. We created memories that I will cherish forever. I grew as a player and person, and feel prepared to take that next step. After an incredible season, I am excited to enter the 2020 NBA Draft. I will always appreciate everyone at Duke who invested their time and energy to make me better -- Coach K and our coaches, our entire support staff, our managers, the Cameron Crazies and so many others across campus. Duke is a special place and you already know I will be back soon to catch a game and support my brothers."
The official release comes just a few hours after Stadium's Jeff Goodman initially reported Carey's decision.
This marks the fourth consecutive year that Duke will be sending at least three players to the draft. Carey is projected to be an early first round pick and the earliest of this year's Blue Devil trio.
The USBWA National Freshman of the Year made waves in his first and only season in Durham, leading the team with 17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per contest. Game after game, Carey bullied opponents in the post and consistently put the most points on the scoreboard for Duke.
As the season reached its abrupt halt, the Blue Devil big man started raking in the accolades. First, he was crowned ACC Rookie of the Year with a near unanimous vote. Just over a week after the NCAA called it curtains for March Madness, more trophies hit Carey's shelf as he was named an AP All-American second-teamer and later the USBWA National Freshman of the Year. All Duke freshmen to receive the latter honor have gone on to enter the NBA Draft after one season.
"We were honored to have Vernon and his family in our program this season," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He had an incredible year, being named one of our team's Most Valuable Players, the National Freshman of the Year and a consensus All-American. I'm am so proud to have had the opportunity to coach such a tremendous young man. He came every day looking to get better, and I know the best is yet to come for him. I want to congratulate Vernon and his family on this decision and wish him nothing but the best as he begins what will be a special NBA career."
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Carey was the Blue Devils' highest ranked recruit entering the season, with ESPN ranking him as the No. 6 recruit in the country. The 6-foot-10 big man took some time to adapt his offense to the pace of college ball but really started to hit his stride by late November, scoring a career-high 31 points against California Nov. 21 and never looking back.