Despite having his first and only season at Duke cut short by a toe injury, the athletic point guard proved quite prolific in the 11 games he did play, averaging 17.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field.
Irving joins fellow NBA players Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, John Wall of the Washington Wizards and fellow 2011 draft mate Derrick Williams, the No. 2 overall pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“It’s a great feeling. I am proud and excited to join the Panini team,” Irving said in a Panini news release. “This is another great class that I’ve been drafted into – joining fellow No. 1 overall picks Blake Griffin and John Wall as well as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant – and I’m honored to be added to that roster.”
As part of the exclusive agreement, Irving’s autographs and memorabilia will be found only in Panini products. He also will be featured on Panini packaging as well as in Panini’s national advertising, marketing and social media initiatives. His first officially licensed NBA trading cards will be included in Panini’s 2011-12 NBA Prestige product.
Irving and his Panini America teammates will also be the faces of the company’s new Panini Authentic memorabilia division that launched in May.
“In just 11 games at Duke, Kyrie displayed the kind of uncanny playmaking and leadership abilities that basketball collectors and NBA fans covet,” said Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America. “Certainly he caught our attention inside Panini America headquarters. We’re tremendously excited to add him to our unparalleled roster of NBA talent. He’ll fit in nicely here.”