When trying to come up with which players will be in the court in crunch time for Duke next season, I keep coming up with four players. My current feeling is that Duke will want true freshman Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, and returnees Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore Jr. on the court most of the time.
We should see a vast improvement from Hurt and Moore, both of whom will be depended upon to lead via knowing the Blue Devils system of doing things. Ideally, you want some older players in the lineup but Duke will be a pretty young team, save two key backups, if you can call them that, in Jordan Goldwire and Joey Baker.
Jalen Johnson is a sure bet one and done talent and Duke will allow him plenty of freedom to grow his game while in Durham. Jeremy Roach will be handed the keys to point guard duties early on as well.
So, I see these four as starters for most of the season which begs the question, who will the fifth starter be? Well, to start, Duke will have a lot of players fill that role and it will come down to how players are working in practice and matchups.
When Duke goes big, they can look to freshman Mark Williams and to a lesser degree Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman. The staff will also have incoming Columbia transfer Patrick Tape in the mix in the frontcourt. I can see all of these players getting a start and when practice resumes, we will have an idea of who is adjusting to perceived roles.
As for the freshman, Brakefield and Coleman each bring their skillset to the mix. Brakefield is a solid offensive player who can stretch the floor and Coleman is a versatile hard worker around the paint. Williams can be a basket protector and a force in the paint and has continuously improved in the past two years.
But Duke can go smaller as well and this is where I enter another freshman D.J. Steward into the mix. He is a potentially prolific scorer and talented enough to fill that fifth spot. In fact, when I took a poll of the few people I trust, he seemed to be what most considered the best bet for the fifth starting spot.
But, hold on a minute. This is where we talk about Jordan Goldwire. Talk about a hard worker that will get after you defensively. And then there is Joey Baker who is always a three-point threat and a player who can do much more than that.
This is where I tell you that while I have penciled in some perceived starters, it does not mean they will have to play ironman minutes. In fact, there are many lineup possibilities.
Duke can go small and pressure the heck out of teams with Roach, Steward, Goldwire, Moore, and a big. Or they can try and match up with the likes of bigger teams with Williams, Johnson, and Hurt with some help from Tape.
The Blue Devils have tweeners as well to insert into the mix, so at least early in the season, Duke will be able to go as deep as they did a season ago with concern to their lineups. I will go out on a limb and predict up to ten players will get a start at some point in the coming season.
While Duke will be young, they will be deep again this season. The key will be to get back on campus and get accustomed to one another as we all await positive news on the virus which has yet to clear.
Also, keep in mind this is my early take on Duke hoops in 2020-21 and it will change as we get closer to the season. But for now, this is a gauge on what we might expect.
I will be discussing other aspects and possibilities concerning Duke Basketball as we tie several articles in as an early bird preview in the coming days where we'll answer a lot of team questions. And speaking of questions, send any into our bluedevilnation@twitter feed with the hashtag #AskBDN and we will address the best of them.
The Duke Blue Devils moved to 10-1 going into the Christmas break with an 86-57 win over Wofford. It was the fourth consecutive win for the 3rd ranked Blue Devils who were coming off their school's exam break.
The Blue Devils played the game without the services of starting point guard Tre Jones who has sustained a minor foot injury. “It's out of an abundance of caution that we’re holding Tre out tonight,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “We are confident this is minor and we expect him back very soon.”
Duke jumped out to a 39-26 lead at the half where nine players played and scored. The team continued their effort into the second half where they pushed the ball inside to get two Wofford started into early foul trouble.
The Blue Devils got a huge lift off the bench from Joey Baker who was blistering the nets from the three-point stripe. At the five minute mark in the second half, the Cameron crowd was cheering his name.
Baker ended the contest with a team and career-high 22 points. He received high praise from Krzyzewski who said he had worked hard since September. He added that the whole team was pulling for Baker in the game who actually gave his coach a high five after one score near the Duke bench.
Vernon Carey added another double-double 20 points and 10 rebounds, his eighth of the season. Krzyzewski obviously wanted to push the ball inside and that benefited the freshmen big man.
It was clear in the post-game press conference that Krzyzewski liked his team's effort and for good reason. The Blue Devils have practiced very little during the exam break but played sharp, especially on the defensive end.
Duke got a solid effort from its entire team going nine deep while substituting often. Jordan Goldwire was solid in his start at point guard not committing a turnover while adding 8 points and 5 assists.
Matthew Hurt has a solid first half scoring 12 points and all of his teammates contributed right down to Justin Robinson who came in late and made some plays.
All in all, it was just as solid an effort as one could ask of the Blue Devils heading into the Christmas break.
A lot of the recruiting world was in mild shock when Bryan Antoine picked Villanova over Duke yesterday. Actually, I am not that surprised for recruiting is an inexact science when trying to read the tea leaves of the information which is available.
This one started to turn a little while back in that the Wildcats put on a full court press on Team Antoine. And let's face it, they have won two of the last three titles, so this is a hot school.
The surprise, however, is that Antoine did not even take his Duke visit. Hey, I thought he was a Duke lean, but there had been scuttlebutt coming from the Wildcats for the past two weeks where they were appeasing him by saying he could be close to his entire family.
Not to alarm you, but another player who is getting the full court press from Duke who is considered a strong lean, Isiah Stewart is also getting a monster push from Villanova and they have closed the gap to where his recruitment is in doubt.
I have already heard that Antoine and other Nova recruits are on him hard to play with them, so this is one to watch closely. There are also rumors saying that negative recruiting is going on where some are saying Mike Krzyzewski will not be at Duke much longer and could ride into the sunset if his team won it all this coming season.
I cannot confirm or deny the rumors, but it is not a stretch to think some version of negative recruiting is going on. It has also been mentioned, mainly on Duke sites; that missing Jeff Capel is playing a role in recruiting. While this is true in some cases, Duke still has guys who Coach K trusts and they have Coach K. But Capel was one to speak his mind and relate to players which will serve him well at Pitt.
I do not completely buy that missing Capel is the cause of a slow recruiting start. I see it more as what players are available who grew up liking Duke to be lacking a tad this season. This means the staff has to sell them on what is best for their basketball future for their hearts do not necessarily make them want to automatically come to Duke.
There is actually more to the negative recruiting I am hearing but I am just not comfortable in speaking to unsubstantiated facts.
Let's face it, Duke cannot always pick and choose who it gets on campus and there will be off years. And it is also good to keep in perspective that the Blue Devils are riding high with a direct pipeline to the NBA of late.
That is why they hope the rest of the kids they're recruiting wait. The staff wants them to see this years team on campus and the success their alumni has on the NBS this coming season where they will have a record number of players on rosters,.
While there are not the sure things like in the past with concern to prospects, the Blue Devils are not dead in the water yet. They are still in the mix with some of the nations top rated players but each one presents a difficult challenge.
With the loss of Antoine, the Blue Devils will likely go all in on Josiah James now. They need some wings and he can play multiple guard spots. They could use an early commitment from James about now or any other player but we will likely have to sweat it out for a bit longer. James will visit the Duke campus on the 21st of this month and he will do so at the same time as Wendell Moore.
Not getting kids on campus like in the case of Antoine, could alter their plans. The bottom line is the staff felt it would get a visit before his decision and they were confident in what they had to offer.
I would imagine with the loss of Antoine, the phone calls will increase and that has to happen when you have a limited crop of kids left on the wish list.
In short, the phones and texts are going out and the staff is showing kids proper interest. They had an idea before we did that Antoine was being tugged to stay near home.
Also, let me interject here that we live in a world where Antoine can go to Villanova and Zion Williamson can pick Duke and nobody saw it coming. This is worth remembering when worried if Duke will get anybody as many are falling victim to.
Some seem to think Vernon Carey will be a tough get and I think he will, but Duke will need to get in his grill with reports that Villanova wants Stewart to round out their class. And I hate to say this, but the word is that Stewart is open to doing just that. Official visits to Kentucky on October 17, Duke October 19, Miami October 26, and UNC November 2.
Duke has to get one of Carey or Stewart in that they will only have Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden up front next season. And who is to say they will be here for sure?
I think Duke is strong with Isiah Stewart, but this one is not over and they have to close. There is a pile of unsubstantiated rumors going on with concern to where he leans, but it appears he will take his visits before doing anything, which means we'll sweat it out a bit, I sometimes cringe when people call kids a lock, but the truth of the matter is Duke let Armando Bacot go to UNC thinking this kid was in the bag. I think the thought process here was looking who we turned away from in favor of you but we will have to wait and see what that means to Stewart and Duke has yet to get any player out of the City Rocks AAU system.
The Blue Devils have gone all in on Matthew Hurt but so has every school on his list. He played for Bill Self with USA Basketball and he gets more calls than the hottest girl in school. Still, the word is that Mike Krzyzewski is building a good relationship with the standout player and he will have to stay on him hard and sweat it out should Duke win this one. As you saw in our earlier update, Duke will be in-home with him this Sunday as will Kansas and Kentucky. Whoo! UNC and Minnesota will visit shortly thereafter. I think Duke will have a better feel about where they stand after this visit and that Hurt will begin to make official visit plans. I think the three visitors on Sunday have the upper hand in this one and that it will be a race until the end. Some reports have him going to Kentucky's Big Blue Madness already but I have not confirmed that as of yet.
And it now looks like Duke will have to sweat it out with the aforementioned Carey and Stewart as well. But hold on before you jump off a bridge. Keep in mind that Duke will be able to offer immediate playing time and exposure and a tested method of getting players drafted in the lottery. That is why I may be a little worried in that there is no player in the fold just yet, but I also see the openings Duke will have to offer.
Many have said that Cole Anthony will only come if Tre Jones goes pro. Well, if Jones goes pro, then Duke probably just won the title in the same way his brother left early. In short, just let this one play out for a lot can happen. It is a win-win here. If Jones goes pro, it gives Duke a chance to offer Anthony the ball. If Jones stays, we are still okay,
That brings us to Wendell Moore. I think Duke will get Moore but his camp is taking it slow and going through the motions. I just feel Duke has too much to offer for him to be swayed over to N.C. State or North Carolina. And the main thing Duke offers is playing time for a player like him. They are telling him he can be their Justise Winslow and he visits campus at the end of the month.
May I also remind you that Duke likely sees Joey Baker as a part of the incoming class as well. I am not sure if he will redshirt, but his impact is a year away, save some spot up shooting.
I know some players recently decided to stay in the 2020 class as in R.J. Hampton. But situations change things. And we have a summer to go with Hampton and other 2020 targets who may come out a year early and we are in good with some kids capable of that feat.
As for Nico Mannion, he too is getting a major push from Villanova and Duke is in contact. We will know this coming week if Duke will turn it up with his recruitment in that no official visit has been set up of late. It is time to make a move if they really like the kid and if they do not, they feel comfortable with Jones and other options including waiting it out with Anthony.
Duke may also get into the transfer market in that it is now like recruiting. In fact, I would be shocked if they didn't should they fall short a body or two on the recruiting front. It will have to be the right fit, but I can see this scenario playing out sooner rather than later.
The bottom line is Mike Krzyzewski will find a way to adjust to the situation presented. He will fill his roster, so no need to get overly worried as some are in the Blue Devil Nation.
We'll get into the upcoming visits next update and there will be a clearer picture with more information at that time. In the interim, I will check in with sources to see where we stand with the prospects as things progress. Until then, remember, do not believe everything you hear and crystal balls do not always work as they should.
Lastly, the word is that Tre Jones and Cam Reddish are doing more in workouts and that they will be ready to go once camp starts in less than three weeks. Alex O'Connell will be held out of contact drills for a bit but will be ready to go as well.
I am also working on my take on the Canadian and a preview for the season. Those of you remember last seasons 3200-word take and another one is coming.
We don't have the most active message board for our members seem to be readers. But you can ask questions there and get further updates and analogies. One more side note, the staff is in regular contact with Brandon Boston and Jalen Johnson and will be adding more names to their wishlist as time goes on for 2020.
Joey Baker announced today that he is reclassifying and or skipping his senior season to be a part of the 2018 recruiting class. Baker 6-foot-7, 195 pound wing from Fayetteville (N.C.) who played for Trinity Christian.
Baker will join the loaded class which consists of R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones. He was close to Jon Scheyer and the Duke staff and his family came to the conclusion that he would be better served in his future endeavors by joining the Duke team this season.
Baker was a mainstay in Cameron Indoor Stadium this past season and he also helped to recruit other players to Duke. Baker was a consensus top 25 prospect who will give Duke immediate depth on the wing .
After taking a fall on a dunk attempt last evening, Duke commitment Joey Baker and his team bounced back with a win today. See what he had to say about recruiting others to play with him and more by joining Blue Devil Nation Premium during our special where we double your membership time.
More recruitiing coverage is available for members.
Some young prospect just know where they want to go. One of those is Joey Baker who announced that he is the first 2019 verbal commitment to Duke University,
Baker is a five-star forward from Fayetteville, North Carolina which is where current Los Angeles Lakers star Brandon Ingram is from. The Trinity Christian standout has been on multiple visits to Duke where he most recently joined a bevy of stars for Countdown to Craziness,
This one was more or less over when Duke offered Baker on September the 30th. It is widely known that Baker was high on the Blue Devils and what Mike Krzyzewski had to say since their initial contact.
Once again, Duke benefits from getting a young man who had watch them growing up and one who knew that would be his future home. Baker is considered to be a versatile small forward and he is asked to do it all for his high school team. Baker averaged 13.6 ppg for Team Felton over the summer.
Baker will now turn his attention to his high school season while making some trips to Cameron to see this years talented team. You can also look to him in making an effort to recruit other talented players to play alongside him.