Duke fans are going to hate me for this. “Duke at 16, really!?” Yes, really. The Duke Blue Devils are at 16. For starters they missed the NCAA Tournament last year and didn’t look good at all. Then factor in the fact that the Blue Devils lost some of their best players from that team. Granted Duke has one of the best incoming recruiting classes like always. That is why they’re at this number. They’re also bringing in a good transfer. Perhaps the biggest thing though is playing well for Coach K in his final season. I’m skeptical but optimistic about this team. I do probably have them too low. If all the newbies gel, and there is a lot of them, then this will be a very good team. But if not then I don’t know.
Check out team number 17, the Maryland Terrapins, right here.
The Duke Blue Devils
You’re not going to find many bigger Paolo Banchero fans than me. He could be in the NBA right now. Banchero is going to be the best player on this team and will be an offensive force. He is also an intimidating physical presence in the post at 6’10” 250 lbs. He and center Mark Williams will form a frontcourt that could be the best one in the country. Speaking of Williams, the seven foot sophomore was on a tear last year before going down with an injury. During that tear he averaged 13 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game over a ten game stretch. Opposing teams will not want to mess with those two.
I am also a big fan of freshman shooting guard Trevor Keels. The Fairfax, Virginia native is a lights-out scorer who can but the ball through the net from anywhere on the floor. AJ Griffin is another super talented freshman who could be a lottery pick in next summer’s NBA Draft. As the seasons begins though do keep in mind that Griffin is currently recovering from a dislocated knee and won’t be available to start the season. Theo John is transferring in from Marquette. The big grad transfer forward will provide good size and strength off the bench for this squad.
Duke will also look to get improvements out of returnees Jeremy Roach and Wendell Moore Jr. Roach was a high school teammate of Trevor Keels at Paul VI Catholic in northern Virginia and the two are now reunited in Durham. The two should have excellent chemistry together in the Blue Devils’ backcourt that could really help with Roach’s development as a point guard. There is a lot of hype in Durham right now about how good Moore Jr. looks heading into this season. People around the program think the junior forward is primed for a breakout season.
This Blue Devils team is not going to let down basketball coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski in his final season before retirement. It is just not going to happen. Duke fans should not have to worry in February and March about whether or not their team is going to make the NCAA Tournament. But the question is exactly how good they will be. Like I mentioned above, that will depend on how well the seven newcomers and other young guys all mesh together. But if they do then they could send Coach K off into the sunset with one final national championship.
PG – Jeremy Roach (8.7 PPG/ 2.2 RPG/ 2.8 APG)
SG – Trevor Keels (#22 overall recruit on 247 Sports)
SF – AJ Griffin (#17 overall recruit on 247 Sports)
PF – Paolo Banchero (#2 overall recruit on 247 Sports)
C – Mark Williams (7.1 PPG/ 4.5 RPG/ 1.4 BPG)