Kyle Singler Forgoes NBA Draft, Making Duke A Favorite To Repeat

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Kyle Singler Forgoes NBA Draft, Will Return To Duke For Senior Year

Bad news for Blue Devil haters everywhere: Duke forward Kyle Singler announced that he will forgo the NBA Draft and return to school for his senior season, according to Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports.

The 6'9'', 210-pound Singler averaged 17.7 and 7.0 rebounds per game for Duke this past season, but still would have likely been a late-first to early-second round pick, even after his virtuoso performance in the Final Four. Due to the especially large influx of early-entrants in this year's draft, driven by fears of a lockout in 2011, Singler probably would have been pushed down the board and would not have been guaranteed a spot in the first-round of the draft, which was reportedly his most important consideration. Indeed, ESPN's Chad Ford ranked Singler as the 41st-best prospect in this class, while Draft Express had him 25th, which is a very large difference for a prospect, as first-round picks receive guaranteed contracts and second-round picks do not.

While Singler has demonstrated throughout his career that he's a consistent, fluid scorer, doubts about whether he's a tweener -- will small forward or power forward be his natural position in the pros? -- and about whether he has the athleticism to guard people in the NBA have lowered his ceiling in the eyes of NBA scouts. However, his improved perimeter game the last few months of this past season has eased some of these concerns, and with a strong senior season it's conceivable he could play his way into the lottery in what could be a diluted 2011 draft.

Singler's decision to eschew the NBA for another year immediately makes Duke, at the very least, preseason co-favorites along with Michigan State. While the Spartans will return nearly their entire team that's made back-to-back Final Four appearances, along with a top-5 incoming recruiting class, Coach K's squad should boast a bevy of talented scorers that could make them even more dangerous than they were last year. Duke will lose mainstay Jon Scheyer and rebounding mavens Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas, but replacing them, the Blue Devils will still have the steady Nolan Smith, to go with highly-touted point guard Kyrie Irving and transfer Seth Curry (the brother of former Davidson star Stephen Curry), along with the Plumlee brothers up front. As SB Nation's Duke Basketball Report explains, this is theoretically a much more balanced Duke team than even last year's edition, which should allow Coach K to use Singler in a variety of ways:

From Singler’s point of view, there are enough players on this team of differing skills to potentially allow him to play to his strengths.  During his career, his versatility has allowed him to move from the post to power forward and finally to the perimeter.  With the size up front and the strength in the backcourt, Duke can use his versatility not just where it’s needed but where it is most valuable.  They can use him in constant mismatches.  They can put him at three, conceivably four positions.

In other words, rather than simply using him to fill needs, they can use him aggressively, like the queen in chess.

Zoubek and Thomas' absence should not be underunderestimated -- indeed, Duke won this past season because of its offensive rebounding more than anything else -- but still, the Blue Devils look loaded in a way they haven't in years down in Durham. Watch out.

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