Duke's AJ Griffin Declares for 2022 NBA Draft, Plans to Hire Agent

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 24, 2022

Duke forward A.J. Griffin (21) drives against North Carolina during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
AP Photo/Chris Seward

AJ Griffin's time at Duke is over after one season, as the forward declared for the 2022 NBA draft Sunday.

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Griffin addressed his decision in a statement, via the Blue Devils' official website:

"I know a lot of kids grow up dreaming they could wear that Duke uniform and play in Cameron Indoor Stadium. I was one of those kids growing up, and I am so grateful I had that opportunity. As I declare for the 2022 NBA draft, I am filled with gratitude. It was an honor to play for Duke and represent The Brotherhood. It was a dream come true. My experiences have helped prepare me for this moment and I am proud to know I will be a Blue Devil for life."

Griffin plans on hiring an agent.

This is just the latest departure for the Duke program this offseason. Paolo Banchero, Mark Williams, Wendell Moore Jr. and Trevor Keels all previously declared for the draft.

Griffin arrived at Duke as a 5-star prospect and the No. 18 overall player, No. 5 small forward and No. 1 player from the state of New York in the 2021 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

He immediately faced plenty of pressure given his recruiting profile and the powerhouse program he chose to attend. After all, he brought an impressive combination of length, versatility and athleticism at 6'6" with the ability to defend multiple positions, attack the lane off the bounce and hit from three-point range.

The freshman wasted little time showing off some of that skill set with 18 points against Lafayette in November, but his spot in the rotation was in question after he played a combined eight minutes and didn't score in marquee back-to-back nonconference matchups with Gonzaga and Ohio State.

Fortunately for Griffin and Duke, that quickly changed.

He poured in 19 points in the next game against South Carolina State and was one of the Blue Devils' most important playmakers by the start of ACC play. He dropped 22 points in a win over Wake Forest and another 22 points in a victory over Louisville before dazzling in the always pressure-packed rivalry showdown with North Carolina.

He went on a 10-0 run by himself in the second half that included multiple three-pointers as Duke put the February game away. He finished with 27 points in a display of his sky-high potential.

Shortly after the UNC win, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman listed Griffin as the fifth-best player on his big board of 2022 NBA draft prospects.

Griffin finished his one and only college season averaging 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from three-point range. He also helped lead the Blue Devils to the Final Four after he grew more accustomed to his role as a go-to option.

He will now look to build toward becoming a go-to option at the next level after declaring for the draft.