NBA Draft

2023 NBA Draft: Duke center Dereck Lively II decides to turn professional after his freshman year

We independently review everything we recommend based on our strict editorial guidelines. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn More

This Tuesday, Duke freshman Dereck Lively II announced that he’s declaring for the 2023 NBA Draft after an impressive first and only season in college basketball. The center, who served earnestly as a defensive stopper, led all freshmen nationally in blocks per game at 2.4, even though he only played an average of 20.6 minutes this last campaign. 

The thing is, the seven-foot-one athlete was in the shadow of another big man sensation Kyle Filipowski, but was still able to record impressive stat lines throughout his first season.

“I love Duke, I love everyone here,” the youngster said announcing his decision on social media. “This has been an amazing experience for me. I will be entering my name into the 2023 NBA Draft.”

Lively became part of the Blue Devils as the No.2 overall prospect in the Class of 2022, becoming the highest-ranked player in Duke’s top-ranked recruited class. Although he didn’t achieve a significant offensive role under first-year coach Jon Scheyer, we was rated as the team’s most efficient overall athlete.

Over the last month and a half, the North Carolina squad improved immensely as Lively gradually took on stronger roles in the team. With his impressive 65.8% shooting from the floor, the center reached double figures for scoring 5 times.

The performance that made his coach realize how valuable he is was back on February 4 against North Carolina, as he produced 8 blocks and 14 rebounds, logging a bolder average to his 2.1 offensive rebounds per match.

According to CBS Sports, as of today the former freshman ranks No.22 in the 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Ranking. College basketball reporter Kyle Boone recently placed Lively II at No.21 in a rock draft, as his colleague Gary Parrish believes he’s at No.28.

“The 7-foot center isn’t a modern big, but his ability to alter shots and catch lobs at the rim is still valuable,” Parrish wrote.

The inspiring story of Dereck Lively II and his incredible mother Kathy Drysdale

There’s a tender, yet powerful story behind Dereck’s upringing, as he lost his father when he was a young boy and his mother Kathy took it upon her to inspire his son to thrive in sports.

“The reason I say I play basketball for my mother, its because she’s the one that got me into it,” the center said. “She’s the reason I love the game, she was my first coach. I also play basketball just so I can make sure I give her an easy life.”

Take a look at this special report posted by Duke University called “No Excuses”:

How will he fare in the modern NBA? Well, Lively can definitely become a rim protector early in his professional career, considering he possesses incredible block instincts and such a long frame. As for offensively, no doubt he’s a lob threat around the basket, with an efficient shot from the field.

The Blue Devils will certainly miss their young athlete, even though Duke is already awaiting another top-rated recruiting class to start next season. So even though they possess five out of the 20 best young basketball players in the United States, Lively II’s 4.9 blocks per game will surely leave a hole in their defensive strategy.