NCAA Basketball: Providence at Connecticut

Providence's David Duke drives to the basket against Connecticut's Josh Carlton in February. Duke has hired an agent and is leaving Providence for the NBA. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

PROVIDENCE – Besides being known as former Friars, what do Providence College basketball players Ben Bentil, Rodney Bullock, and Alpha Diallo have in common?

Each one threw their name into the NBA Draft mix, albeit without an agent. That meant they still held the option of returning to PC. Ultimately, Bullock and Diallo decided to remain in college while Bentil pressed forward as a full-fledged NBA prospect.

David Duke doesn’t plan to test the so-called waters. He won’t be working out for NBA teams while protecting his remaining eligibility. Duke has hired an agent, a move that automatically signals that his time in a PC uniform has come to an end.

Officially, Duke is three-and-done with the news coming down on Friday in an announcement made by the Providence native via a 54-second video that was posted to his personal Twitter and Instagram accounts. He leaves after appearing in 91 career games with the Friars.

“Dear Friartown, after much consideration and prayer, I’ve decided to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft and begin my professional career. It’s been an honor and a privilege to play in my hometown these past three years. I dreamt about putting on the Friars’ jersey growing up. There is nothing like going to battle at The Dunk in front of the best fans in the country,” was how the video that was narrated by Duke himself began. “I want to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play the game that I love. Thank you to my family, coaches, and teammates for your unwavering support. To the City of Providence, thank you for embracing me every step of the way.”

The days leading up to Friday’s declaration saw Duke spend time in Los Angeles. He’s believed to have signed with Wasserman, an agency that includes NBA star Russell Westbrook as a client. Duke lists Westbrook as one of his favorite players.

“We are appreciative of everything that David has done for our men’s basketball program,” Providence College coach Ed Cooley said in a statement. “David has always had a goal of playing in the NBA. He is taking another step toward that goal and we wish him all the best. Over the past three seasons, David has worked very hard to improve himself and help make our team better. He has always represented the program in a first-class manner. We look forward to watching his professional career and seeing all the great things that he will achieve.”

The decision to turn pro with an agent marks the next step in the story of an individual who earned high praise at every stop he made prior to coming to PC.

Duke started his high school career at Classical before electing to go the prep-school route at Cushing (Massachusetts.) Academy. He rose to become a four-star recruit in part due to the attention he attracted with his AAU program, Mass Rivals.

At times, Duke lived up to the advanced hype that accompanied him to Providence. In some instances  he struggled with consistency – mostly noticeably this past season when Jared Bynum missed substantial time with a groin injury and Duke had to serve as PC’s main ballhandler as well as score at a high clip.

Duke improved his scoring average during each of his three seasons with the Friars, yet his shooting percentage went backwards when comparing his output between his sophomore and junior seasons. This past season, Duke shot 39% from both the field and 3-point line en route to averaging 16.8 points per game. As a sophomore in 2019-20, he shot 41% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc for exactly 12 points per game.

If there’s one takeaway from Friday’s announcement, it’s that Duke has already received enough positive feedback to suggest that he’s a first-round talent. In the latest projection released by, Duke would be selected with the 24th pick of the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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