Trevor Keels was ‘torn’ between Duke basketball, NBA Draft

Trevor Keels was ‘torn’ between Duke basketball, NBA Draft


Duke associate head coach Jon Scheyer talks with Trevor Keels (1) during the first half of Duke's game against Wake Forest at LJVM Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC, Wednesday, January 12, 2022.

Duke associate head coach Jon Scheyer talks with Trevor Keels (1) during the first half of Duke’s game against Wake Forest at LJVM Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC, Wednesday, January 12, 2022.

ehyman@newsobserver.com

Trevor Keels kept Duke’s fans and coaches waiting until the final hours on June 1 as he decided whether to play with the Blue Devils next season or turn professional.

Duke’s coaches knew the angst the 6-4 freshman guard felt after he helped Duke win the ACC regular-season championship and reach the Final Four.

“Really torn,” Duke associate head coach Chris Carrawell said Friday during a virtual news conference with reporters. “He was torn, man.”

About two hours before the 11:59 pm deadline on June 1 for players to withdraw from the draft and remain eligible for college basketball, Keels made public his decision to head to the NBA. With the draft set for June 23, he’s projected as a late first-round pick by some draft analysts and a second-rounder by others.

Duke coach Jon Scheyer said, once Keels entered his name in the draft that he should be “all-in” with the process until he made his final decision. At the same time, Carrawell said, while supporting Keels in his ultimate dream of playing the NBA, Duke certainly would have loved to see him return.

They stayed in regular contact with Keels. Rising junior Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach, Keels’ high school teammate in Virginia and at Duke, said around 4 pm on June 1 he still thought there was a chance Keels would stay with him and the Blue Devils.

“All the way up to the end he was torn,” Carrawell said. “He was really torn. Because, Trev is 18 years old. You can come back and be one of the best players in the country. Or, I say to all these guys, the NBA trumps everything.”

At the NBA draft scouting combine in Chicago during the middle of May, before he made his final decision, Keels said he was not thinking about Duke and was fully focused on the NBA. He also said he’d talk with Scheyer before making his decision.

But the lure of the NBA, he said, was strong.

“I just feel like when you get an opportunity like this to hear your name called, it’s just something you wanted to hear your whole life,” Keels said. “I feel like I’m ready to be in the NBA. I feel like I’m learning a lot. But I also think, you know, Coach Scheyer is a great dude. And I know he’s a great coach. I know I love Duke, too.”

In the end, Keels opted to leave Duke for good. The Blue Devils responded by adding 6-6 Illinois transfer Jacob Grandison to give them another experienced perimeter player to pair with Roach. In addition, 6-4 guard Tirese Proctor from Australia announced on June 2 he was reclassifying to join Duke this year.

Those moves wouldn’t have been so crucial to Duke’s team had Keels decided to play another season in college basketball.

But Carrawell is good with how it all turned out for everyone.

“You can’t get mad at a kid, man, who’s gonna play in the NBA,” Carrawell said.“He’s gonna get drafted, hopefully, first round. But even if he was to go second round, a team’s gonna guarantee him. The potential is there, in three or four years, you’re gonna have a player who with his body type, he gets in great condition, you got a really good player by the time he’s 22 years old.”

This story was originally published June 17, 2022 1:05 PM.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Trevor Keels was ‘torn’ between Duke basketball, NBA Draft

Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. He placed second in both beat writing and breaking news in the 2019 Associated Press Sports Editors national contest. Previously, Steve worked for The State (Columbia, SC), Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC), The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), Charlotte Observer and Hickory (NC) Daily Record covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the SC General Assembly. He’s won numerous state-level press association awards. Steve graduated from Illinois State University in 1989.

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.