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Fresh off national title, Duke’s Justise Winslow declares for NBA draft

Wisconsin v Duke

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 06: Matt Jones #13 and Justise Winslow #12 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrate after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers during the NCAA Men’s Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Duke defeated Wisconsin 68-63. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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A consensus top four has emerged for the 2015 NBA draft: Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Emanuel Mudiay and D’Angelo Russell.

If anyone can crack that group, though, it’s Justise Winslow.

The Duke freshman took a key step in that direction today.

Duke release:

Duke freshman Justise Winslow will enter the 2015 NBA Draft, head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Tuesday.

“We’re very happy for Justise and his family,” said Krzyzewski. “He had a sensational year, both on and off the court. He was an amazing factor for our success in winning the national championship. From everything we have found out, Justise is projected to be a high lottery pick and we believe that to be true. This is a great time to take advantage of this opportunity. We’re behind him all the way and love him and his family.”

Winslow plays exceptionally hard on both ends, a trait his superior athleticism allows.

He can get to the basket and shot well on 3-pointers at Duke, though his low free-throw percentage raises questions about the sustainability of his shooting.

His strength, length and motor should make his defense translate more seamlessly to the pros. If he can use that to get on the court, his offense should develop.

Winslow was a strong prospect before a strong NCAA tournament, which culminated in a Duke title. Now, his stock is at its highest. He’s solidly in the top six – and could keep climbing higher.