Duke’s Developing 2017 Class

Brian HoraceGeneral Information, Recruiting, Results/Thoughts0 Comments

As Duke navigates the waters of recruiting this is where they stand so far. Duke has addressed it’s core needs as a program when today the top point guard in the 2017 class officially became a Blue Devil. Trevon Duval announced via a video posted to The Players Tribune.

Duval brings what Duke has lacked since the departure of Tyus Jones to the NBA – a true point guard. He’s a high wire act on the break but still also adept at creating for others. Duval has a strong frame and won’t shy away from contact on the drive, he plays with a ton of explosiveness and blow-by ability.

Duke added depth at the point guard position with the signing of Jordan Goldwire. He may not have been a highly ranked recruit but Goldwire brings a grittiness on defense and capable of running the offense and utilizing Dukes offensive firepower. Hey may not be dynamic athlete Duval is but he does have experience playing with other Division 1 talent. Having 2 guards at the 1 position allows senior guard Grayson Allen to play in his normal position although I’m sure we still, at times, will see Allen at the point depending on what Duke is running and the game situation.

Gary Trent Jr. gives Duke a world-class bucket-getter. He’s an underrated shooter with the ability to grab a board and push the ball up the court. He should thrive in the mid-range for Duke even with his ability to hit from all 3 areas. Duke may need him most as a slasher and mid-range weapon. What sticks out about Trent to me is his ability to absorb contact and square himself up for the shot. He has a very solid frame and physique and wouldn’t be surprised if he leads this team in AND-1’s.

In addition to Trent Jr. Duke added 4 Star guard Alex O’Connell who also is a very good shooter, he should provide Duke with some depth. Playing behind Allen and Trent and battling them in practice should pay significant dividends for his development. He will also benefit from being in the Blue Devil training facilities as he’ll need to put on weight and muscle to be a significant contributor and be more than a spot up shooter.

After missing on Kevin Knox Duke set their sights on 4 Star wing Jordan Tucker. Tucker is a lights out shooter from range and gives Duke the ability to play a natural small forward when going big but still have the option of playing Duval, Trent & Allen in a 3 guard lineup going when going small. Tucker brings not only shooting ability but the ability to get his own shot when need be. As his ball-handling progresses he should be a much more dangerous option off the dribble.

In the paint Duke got an early commitment from Wendell Carter Jr., the 263lb, 6’10 power forward should be able to find time his place in the starting lineup alongside a sophomore Marques Bolden. Carter boasts a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and is a good shot blocker and can score the ball with efficiency down in the paint. Carter is solidly built and is quicker than one would expect from a kid his size.  He moves and runs the floor well. Duke should be formidable down below but thin as far as the bench is concerned unless players like Javin DeLaurier and Antonio Vrankovic make some major improvements over the summer. Duke will need them this season, but know now what is expected and what growth is needed to see some time on the court this year.

Duke had notched once again a top flight recruiting class, some recruiting services have them ranked as high as 2 behind Kentucky. What will make or break this new Duke team is how quickly the new pieces can adjust to the college game but moreover how they adjust to their new teammates. This will be a very young Duke team and in order to make this year a viable championship run Duke will need consistency – something lacking from last year due to mostly uncontrollable circumstances. Duke has done a masterful job in this class of mixing multi-year talent with possible one-and-dones which should hopefully pay dividends this year as well as next.

3 possible keys to next year.

  1. Better defensive effort and execution – Duke’s early exit from the tournament had to do mostly with not being able to get stops, for whatever reason the defense just did not measure up. That needs to be the priority this season.
  2. More fluidity on offense – Duke lacked a true floor general last season and it was evident with the lulls on offense that Duke experienced at time. Though Duke did work around it and actually did increase their assisted basket numbers as the season progressed it was clear that with a true point guard this team would have looked a lot different.
  3. Health! – Health was probably the biggest factor in this team not reaching what many thought was its full potential. It’s not an effect you can measure simply in the number of games missed but in the days missed on the practice floor and development time and in some cases just conditioning. Duke will need that this year with a squad coming in even younger than the previous campaign.