Tag Archives: Vernon Carey

Vernon Carey is the NABC Freshman POY

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke's Vernon Carey Jr., has been named the National Freshman of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

Carey becomes the third consecutive Blue Devil to be honored as the NABC Freshman of the Year, joining Marvin Bagley III in 2018 and Zion Williamson in 2019. Duke has accounted for three of the four winners of the award since its inception in 2017. The Miami, Fla., native was also selected to receive the Wayman Tisdale Award as the USBWA Freshman of the Year.

The consensus second-team All-American and ACC Freshman of the Year, Carey was the only player ranked in the ACC's top 10 in scoring (third, 17.8), rebounding (fourth, 8.8), field goal percentage (first, .577) and blocked shots (sixth, 1.6). He posted 15 double-doubles on the season, which ranked second among NCAA freshmen and second in the ACC. Ten of his double-doubles were 20-10 performances, while 14 came as 15-10 games. Carey was second nationally among freshmen in scoring, third in field goal percentage and fourth in rebounds.

The NABC Freshman of the Year honor comes as the latest postseason recognition for the Duke big man. In addition to receiving the Wayman Tisdale Award, Carey was named the USBWA District III Player of the Year and a consensus second-team All-America selection. He is a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. Carey helped lead the Blue Devils to a 25-6 overall record and 15-5 mark in the ACC.

Dayton boasted the 2020 NABC Player (Obi Toppin) and Coach (Anthony Grant) of the Year. Iowa's Luka Garza earned honors as the NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, while Udoka Azubuike of Kansas was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year.

Duke Must Be More Than Jones and Carey

As a Tre Jones last-second shot bounced off the rim the Duke Blue Devils lost their second consecutive game and their third in the last four outings. A 52-50 loss to Virginia, a team that should have been ranked due to their play of late is not the end of the world, but considering just a play or two would have altered the outcome leaves one feeling empty.

The Blue Devils had their opportunities against Virginia, but a troubling trend continued in the setback. A glance at the box score shows that the team past Tre Jones and Vernon Carey Jr. were a combined 6 of 34 from the field on offense.

To make matters worse, the Blue Devils had an alarmingly paltry four total assists in the loss. Thankfully, Duke has done enough work to warrant a double-bye in the fast-approaching ACC Tournament, but there is plenty of concern with how Duke closes out the regular season against crosstown rivals N.C. State and North Carolina.

Not that long ago, fans and the staff had to feel good about their final two games in Cameron, but now many doubt they can end the skid against hungry teams.

N.C. State can punch their NCAA Tournament ticket with a win and the Monday turnaround gives Duke little time to regroup. One game at a time sure, but it was hard not to notice North Carolina's dominating road win at Syracuse as well.

Early in the season, the Blue Devils had several different players stepping up on different nights which helped them to a fine start. As of late, it is as if everybody on the team is deferring to Vernon Carey and Tre Jones to handle the load.

And they cannot will this team to win by themselves.

As good as Carey and Jones can be they are not Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett from a season ago and they cannot win games taking on the big two role as could two of the top three picks in the NBA Draft.

For whatever reason, the rest of the Duke cast is struggling. Perhaps some of the freshmen have hit the so-called wall, but the Blue Devils are not getting much help from their upperclassmen as well.

If Duke hopes to get past this adversity, it will only come from playing team basketball where other players step up. At this point in the season, the Blue Devils expected to develop a third scoring option, but inconsistency is preventing players with the potential to fill the role.

Duke is not relocating the ball quick enough of late to help handle the pressure. And their players are not playing as if they know and trust one another in certain games.

The aforementioned issues allow opponents to double down on Carey and pressure Jones. And when Duke is not sharing the ball where they have had recent outings of four and six assists, well, you are going to keep losing games.

Duke is starting to tumble in the rankings and their hopes for playing in Greensboro in the NCAA's first round took a major hit. But this team should not even be thinking of that. They should try and find a way to get some swag back for it has been missing of late.

The Blue Devils will have had little time to make adjustments before tomorrow's game with N.C. State. But they can hopefully understand they need to find five players who are willing to play winning basketball when on the court.

"I think this is a key period for us (to) find out who we really are," said Duke leader Tre Jones after the loss to Virginia. Duke faithful hope the Blue Devils are more than they have shown of late.

The Duke versus N.C. State game tips at 7:00 on ESPN. The Blue Devils are currently 13-5 in the ACC and 23-6 overall going into the two-game homestand which ends he regular-season.

A Dozen Feel-Good Takeaways From Duke’s Win

With the exception of an unfortunate injury to Cassius Stanley as he was warming up, yesterday was a total feel-good day for the Duke Blue Devils.

The Return of Zion Williamson

The former Duke standout has taken the world by storm and is now an attraction wherever he turns up. Williamson had participated in the NBA Rising Star game the night before wowing fans with his play. He went out of his way to make it to Duke in time to catch part of the game and when he entered necks were bending. Williamson was also able to see Mike Buckmire collect a late-game basket and it was clear that tickled him. Williamson went to the Duke locker room after the win and hung out with players but he did not address the media, not wanting to take the focus off the team. He spoke with the aforementioned Cassius Stanley who was not able to play in the locker room.

The Return of Tyus "Stones" Jones

A national champion was in Cameron yesterday. Tyus Jones came back to sit with his mom Debbie who is recovering after a health scare. The two were able to see Tre who is having a banner season for the Blue Devils. Tyus spoke with some in the media and it was clear he was there for his brother He also told me they would be able to spend some time together that evening.


It is fair to say that Notre Dame guards Rex Pfluger and T,J, Gibbs will not soon forget the Blue Devils defense on them. They were both held scoreless. The Duke defense was stellar in pushing the Irish off the three-point stripe which is their bread and butter strength. In fact, the Irish were held to a season-low made three's. Duke also scored 19 points off forced Notre Dame turnovers and their thing is ball protection.

Matthew Hurt is Playing his Best Ball of Late

At times this season, Matthew Hurt has struggled to adjust to the physicality of the college game. He has turned a corner of late and his 12 points and 9 rebounds were somewhat lost in a game where so many players had success. There was a play in the first half when Irish star John Moody was guarding Hurt and banging on him hard. Hurt backed him down despite the no calls and connected on a mid-range shot. If Hurt continues to hit the boards as he did yesterday and grows his inside game to go with his three-point shot, we will be talking about him a lot moving forward.


The most pleasant surprise this season is the play of Jordan Goldwire. He flat out shut down Irish guards. His offense is getting better and he was working with Duke assistant Chris Carrawell two hours before the game started. The one play where he was relentless on defense, gained a steal and connected on a drive on the other end was a crowd-pleaser. He will be further tested by a guard-heavy Wolfpack team next.

Big Vern Shows Off

Vernon Carey Jr took over in the first half against the Irish. He took it to John Mooney and showed he was at times unstoppable when he gets intense. Carey has been a difference-maker for Duke this season and he is the best big man in the league. Once Duke took a commanding lead, Carey's numbers dropped off, but he made a definite statement in the game,

Tre Jones

Make no mistake, the keys to the machine are owned by Tre Jones. His play continued to be top-notch on both sides of the ball as his brother and mom looked on. His steady play gives Duke two player of the year candidates. Duke is 33-4 when he scores in double-digits.

Duke Won Their 7th Straight Game

The Blue Devils are playing as well as any team in the nation as they won their seventh consecutive game. Duke is likely to move up in the rankings but a very hungry N.C. State team awaits them next. Duke rolled the Irish and never looked back once that started. The smashing of the Irish was a near-perfect performance.

The Win Puts Duke in 1st Place

The Blue Devils moved into sole possession of 1st place in the ACC with their blowout win over Notre Dame. Louisville stumbled at Clemson earlier in the day and that allowed for Duke to take a half-game lead in the standings.

Quinn Cook Return

The Los Angeles Lakers Quinn Cook was the other part of the 2015 National Champion backcourt to return from the NBA All Star break to take in a game. Always popular, the Crazies could not manage to get him to sit with them. He conversed a bit with mentor Nolan Smith on the bench once the game was in control. Cook had to head out shortly after with big Duke win to get back to business.

Everybody Contributed

We have mentioned some of the players which played well for Duke, but yesterday had a lot of good performances. Javin DeLaurier logged good minutes and he is playing well of late. Alex O'Connell had a team-high 4 steals to go with his 12 points for a super effort. Joey Baker scored 8 points in 14 minutes as well. And Justin Robinson and Mike Buckmire scored in late-game minutes.

Cassius Stanley Will Be Fine

I have no idea how a manager scratched Cassius Stanley's eye in the pre-game warm-ups. I do know he hated missing the game with former players back. As I said in opening this was one of the few negative moments. But the silver lining is he will be ready to go when Duke travels to N.C. State and that is good news and a way to close the feel-good dozen.

After Break, Duke Preps for ACC Run

The Duke Blue Devils (1-0 ACC, 10-1 overall) return to the court tomorrow to face Brown after their last long layoff of the season. Most of the team's players returned home to spend the holidays with family.

During the downtime, current players can reflect on the season to date and discuss things with their families. The coaches do not have the same kind of break for they are attending high school basketball tournaments for recruiting never stops when you are a high profile program.

Despite the busy schedule, the staff still works with current players and there are individual discussions on what to ponder before the season begins in earnest.

The season to date has been a success despite the upset loss to Stephen F. Austin. And for what it is worth, a loss to an eventual NCAA Tournament team will not look as bad as the season progresses.

Duke has early wins over Kansas and Michigan State in their backyard. In their last outing, they demolished Wofford which sent them into the break with momentum and a number three ranking in the coaches poll.

Here are some reasons why Duke is playing winning basketball -

In a year when offensive production is down in the league, Duke is atop the league in scoring. The Blue Devils also have the largest margin of victory at 18.8 ppg.

Vernon Carey has been as solid a freshmen as Duke has had. He is a walking double-double and Duke will continue to grow his game while adjusting their offense to fit his skill set. Carey is 4th in the ACC in scoring and the 3rd leading rebounder and 1st in made FG percentage,

Tre Jones has been a solid leader and has expanded his aggression on the offensive end while setting the tone with his defense. He is 9th in the league in scoring and Jones leads the ACC in assists and charts at 2nd in steals per game.

The Blue Devils are still very much in the process of grooming this year's team. In the preseason, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said that different players could step up in each game. He was not kidding.

Duke has not had a lot of separation from players past Carey and Jones, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. While ideally, you want players to step up and take command, Duke is developing depth and playing ten players on a regular basis. Here is a brief take on each player in the rotation -

Matthew Hurt has been steady while learning is one of four players averaging double-figure scoring. If he can learn to go inside out it will expand his game further. Part of learning to be aggressive in the paint comes with continuing to get stronger.

Cassius Stanley was playing great before his injury. He is athletic and capable of doing some good things as his consistency picks back up. Stanley has shown signs of being a great decision-maker, meaning when to pull the trigger. He is a double-figure scorer to date.

Joey Baker has become an offensive go-to guy off the bench and has provided a much-needed spark. Duke wants him to keep this up while learning to contribute in other areas.

Wendell Moore has shown flashes of brilliance and is a defensive disrupter. Better decision making on offense will earn him even more chances as ACC play begins.

Jordan Goldwire has worked hard to stay in the rotation. He provides spark and hustle.

Alex O'Connell has had his moments and helped Duke win some games with his offense. Duke is looking for him to put it all together in a consistent manner,

Javin DeLaurier has not played quite as good as expected. But who out there thinks things will not come around? If so, I point to last year's Michigan State game.

Jack White has shown on more than one occasion, he has earned Coach K's trust. Duke is very lucky to have these senior captain veterans going into ACC play where DeLaurier and White will contribute.

All of the aforementioned players have had winning moments eleven games into the season. It will be interesting to watch and see the growth now that games will come every few days.

Duke has some interesting pieces to work with in a year where there are few dominant teams. The Blue Devils will need to improve their free throw shooting in that they have flourished with their opponents being 13th in the league against them. You cannot depend on other teams missing that many free throws moving forward, so knocking down your own comes into play.

On the other hand, Duke will build on its strengths. The offense, while good can get even more efficient. The defense has been mostly solid save a few breakdowns and this team has the potential to get better.

So strap in and get ready for January until hopefully April basketball. The ACC season begins in earnest after the Brown game and Duke looks poised to compete.

Duke Crushes Wofford

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.

Duke Rolls Past Central Arkansas

The Duke Blue Devils moved to 3-0 on the season with a 105-54 victory over Central Arkansas in the opening game of the 201 2K Empire Classic.

Duke jumped out to a 21-5 lead at the 12:40 mark of the first half where Duke freshman Matthew Hurt drained two three points to help lead the surge. Hurt ended the game with a career-high 19 points.

That lead grew after the Bears called a timeout to 25-5 as the Duke defense suffocated their opponent to 18% from the field at that point. It would not get much better for Central Arkansas which fell to 1-3 on the season.

By the half, Duke on a near-perfect display of basketball where they took a 57-20 lead.

Duke point guard Tre Jones took a hard fall at the 7:57 mark and went to the Duke bench with just over seven minutes left in the half and did not return. Jones posted 7 points and 2 assists and sat due to the lopsided Duke lead and precaution.

After the game, Krzyzewski said Jones was joking about and should be ready to go for Friday's game.

The Blue Devils came out a tad sluggish in the second half and one could see Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski yell, "Come on," to try and keep his team's intensity up. In fact, a timeout was called where the hall of fame coach showed his team how they were running up and down the court in an attention-getting manner.

Duke was up 67-30 when that happened and it was clear that Krzyzewski was looking for intensity while teaching a young team how to close games out.

Cassius Stanley continued his torrid play early in the season scoring the next 5 points. Stanley would finish the game with 13 points.

Duke was so dominant in the first half it was hard to keep the intensity going. But the Blue Devils responded to Krzyzewski encouraging them to close the game out which led to the 51 point win.

Vernon Carey recorded his first double-double in a Duke uniform with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Duke placed six players in double figures and held their opponent to 36% shooting. The Blue Devils also 14 steals and 26 points off turnovers.

Duke will return to the court for a 7:00 tip off with Georgia State this Friday. A Duke win would likely lead to another #1 ranking with the Kentucky loss earlier in the evening to Evansville.