After much speculation, Trevor Keels' Duke career is officially over.
Keels will keep his name in the 2022 NBA Draft after his initial declaration in April, ESPN's Jonathan Givony first reported Wednesday evening. A projected late first-round to early second-round pick, Keels had until Wednesday night's deadline to withdraw from the draft and retain NCAA eligibility.
"After careful consideration, I have decided to chase my dream and remain in the 2022 NBA Draft," Keels said in a statement Thursday evening via Instagram. "Special thanks to my family, my coaches, and all the NBA teams I've visited with for their amazing support during this process. I also have to thank my Duke teammates. You guys have been there for me since we got together in July and have offered me so much love and support the whole way. That bond we built this season only got stronger over the past few months. I know we will be brothers for life."
The 6-foot-5, 221-pound guard left the door open for a potential return to the Blue Devils as he went through the pre-draft process. But Keels—who landed at No. 26 in ESPN's most recent mock draft—decided to stay the professional course ahead of the June 23 draft.
At the NBA Draft Combine, which ran May 16-22 in Chicago, Keels finished with the third-slowest shuttle run and tied for the third-worst vertical leap, as well as testing for the fourth-highest body-fat percentage measured. Multiple NBA sources told The Athletic after the event that they would advise Keels to return to Duke, and one source pointed to Keels’ former teammate Wendell Moore Jr. as a model of how added time at the NCAA level could help Keels improve his game and draft stock.
Keels finished third on the Blue Devils in scoring last season, averaging 11.5 points per game on 41.9% shooting from the field and 31.2% from three. While he struggled with consistency, the former McDonald’s All-American led Duke in its season-opener against Kentucky with 25 points, and reached or exceeded that tally twice more, first against Clemson and then against Pittsburgh. He also finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.2, the second-highest on the team after Moore.
With Keels bound for the NBA, the Blue Devils are left without a key member of the 2021-22 rotation moving forward. Jon Scheyer's first Duke team as head coach boasts the nation's top-ranked incoming freshman class, but Keels' departure opens up a backcourt spot to be filled alongside rising junior guard Jeremy Roach.
"I have always dreamed of having my name called and playing in the NBA," Keels said in Thursday's statement. "As I officially take this next step, I know Duke will always be in my heart. Duke fans have showed me endless support from the jump and I appreciate it. Lastly, special thanks to Coach K and Coach Scheyer. You both have believed in me for a long time and showed me unconditional support throughout this process. I wouldn't be here without Duke Basketball and I go forward with so much gratitude and respect. Thanks to everyone for your support. All glory to God."
This story was updated following Keels' Instagram announcement Thursday evening.
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Sasha Richie is a Trinity junior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.