The Dagger - NCAAB

Former Duke star Kyrie Irving will be a multimillionaire in matter of weeks, but the likely No. 1 pick in next month's draft still intends to finish his college education.

Irving told reporters at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago on Thursday that he made a pact with his father that he'd earn his college degree in the next five years.

"That's a pact I made with him during my freshman year," Irving said. "He told me that if I was going to leave after one year, I was going to have to get my degree.

"I have to make it work. I'm really going to have to make it work. That's a pact I have to live up to. I definitely need to be at Duke in the summers. I can't forget the Duke program. I want to be around there as much as I can."

At a time when college basketball's one-and-done system has come under fire for turning education into a necessary evil for some NBA prospects, Irving deserves credit for bucking that stereotype. It's an ambitious goal for him to attempt to do three years of coursework after leaving Duke, but it's not an unprecedented one.

Marvin Williams, the Atlanta Hawks forward who turned pro in 2005 after just one season at North Carolina, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution last September that he's now only three summers from earning his college diploma. Williams has returned to Chapel Hill each of the past six summers to continue coursework toward a degree in African-American studies.

Irving told reporters in Chicago he might have spent another year taking classes at Duke had he not returned from a toe injury to play three games in the NCAA tournament. He played only eight games before suffering the injury, so he felt he needed to prove that he was healthy again before entering the draft.

"That NCAA tournament experience was huge," Irving said. I wanted to prove to myself that, one, I was ready. And, two, I wanted to stop all the questions as to whether I was healthy or not and whether this toe injury was going to have a lingering effect on my career. If I didn't play in the NCAA tournament, I probably wouldn't have come out."

(Thanks, Fayetteville Observer)

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