ANAHEIM, Calif. — One of the cruelest annual rituals of the NCAA tournament is that the losing team's top underclassmen must address their futures mere minutes after a crushing season-ending loss.
It was Kyrie Irving's turn to endure that on Thursday night, and the Duke freshman handled it as well as could be expected.
Sitting in the corner of a solemn, tear-stained Duke locker room after a 93-77 loss to fifth-seeded Arizona on Thursday night, Irving said he's still considering returning to school for his sophomore season but acknowledged there's "no guarantee" he'll be back. Irving, a potential top-five pick, has until the April 24 NBA early entry deadline to make a decision.
If Thursday night was Irving's final game at Duke, he left another lasting impression. In just his third game back from a right toe injury that cost him most of the season, Irving was Duke's best player, scoring 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting in a futile attempt to try to help the Blue Devils withstand Arizona's second-half onslaught.
"I'm not really thinking about whether this is my last game or not," Irving said. "I would love to wear the Duke uniform again. At this point, I'm not ready to take it off."
Irving declined to go into specifics about how he'll determine whether to turn pro or not, saying only that he'll evaluate "what's best for [him] and [his] family." That was more information than could be culled from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who said questions about Irving's future were "uncalled for right now."
"You think I just grabbed him and talked to him about that?" Krzyzewski said. "I just hugged him because he's cryin'. I'm not talking to him about him going pro. Those things will happen in due course."