Jay Williams defends Jalen Johnson opting out of Dukes season

Jalen Johnson

Jay Williams defends Jalen Johnson opting out of Dukes season

Williams, who was the 2002 NBA Drafts No. 2 overall pick after a three-year playing career with the Blue Devils from 1999-02, took to Twitter and defended …
Jay Williams defends Jalen Johnson opting out of Duke’s season Follow 247Sports 8 hours ago

Duke freshman forward Jalen Johnson of the Blue Devils’ final six-regular season games Monday evening, a decision that led and criticism from college basketball . ESPN’s Jay Williams, however, was not one of them.

Williams, who was the 2002 NBA Draft’s No. 2 overall pick after a three-year playing career with the Blue Devils from 1999-02, took to Twitter and defended Johnson’s opt-out choice Tuesday morning.

“Jalen Johnson needs to do what’s best for Jalen Johnson. PERIOD,” in a quote-tweet response to one user, who asked if Johnson’s decision was an “issue of character.”

In another quote-tweet response, Williams expressed an understanding of the situation’s overarching factors.

“During a pandemic, during a ton of isolation (who knows how that can affect a person), dealing with an injury as well… Jalen needs to do Jalen,” .

On ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin, Williams delved deeper.

“My thing is — I know there’s been a history with Jalen Johnson, with the way he’s left some other programs before he got to Duke,” Williams said. “I can understand how people can use that as an argument. But … this is a business transaction, and when business wasn’t going right for Jalen and his family, they decided to pull the plug. I can understand how we love to involve the brotherhood and feelings and all these things in there. But at the end of the day, Duke is going to do what’s best for Duke and their program going forward and Jalen Johnson’s going to do what’s best for Jalen Johnson going forward. And I have to respect that.

“Now, if he didn’t feel like he was playing enough, if he felt like his draft status was going down, if he wasn’t planning to stay there next year, you have to do everything in your power to conserve and actually dictate what that narrative is. I think that’s important. It may not make it right from what we like to see in college basketball, because I understand what the brotherhood is the fighting that I have with my family, I get that. But it’s a different age and different day, and he has to do what’s best for him.”

Duke released a with Johnson and head coach , primarily citing medical reasons and a desire to be at full health in the 2021 NBA Draft.

“I appreciate everything about my time at Duke,” Johnson said. “Coach K, my teammates and the program have been nothing but supportive throughout this season, especially during the rehab of my injury. Coach and I have made the decision that I should not play the remainder of this season so I can be 100 percent healthy in preparation for the NBA Draft. This was not easy but we feel it’s best for my future. I have nothing but love and respect for the Brotherhood and thank my teammates and everyone associated with the program. Duke will always have a special place in my heart and will always be a part of me.”

“While we are encouraged by what we are seeing medically, for Jalen’s future, we believe this decision is in his best interested,” Krzyzewski said. “We are ultimately careful with every one of our players and will continue to support Jalen as he progresses toward his goal of playing professional basketball. He deserves to be fully healthy for the upcoming NBA Draft.”

After a 69-53 win at NC State this past Saturday snapped Duke’s three-game losing streak, the Blue Devils (8-8, 6-6) head to Wake Forest for an 8:30 p.m. ET tip-off Wednesday on ACC Network. In 13 games (eight starts), Johnson averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists over 21.5 minutes while shooting 52.3% (57 of 109) — including 44.4% (8 for 18) from deep.

Johnson, a five-star recruit from Milwaukee (Wis.) Nicolet, was a part of Duke’s 2020 class that ranked third in the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings. He signed his letter of intent with the Blue Devils as the 247Sports Composite’s No. 13 overall prospect, No. 3 small forward and No. 1 player in Wisconsin.


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