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Re-ranking the 2008 recruiting class

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July’s live recruiting period, the last of its kind, just finished up, meaning that the Class of 2019 have fully had a chance to prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country.

Scholarships were earned and rankings were justified over the course of those three weekends, but scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being.

Ask Steph Curry.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2007-2014, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career.

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2008, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

Draymond Green (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

1. PAUL GEORGE (UR)

George was considered to be a three-star prospect out of high school, ultimately deciding to play his college basketball at Fresno State. In two seasons at the school George averaged 15.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.0 steals per game, and would go on to be selected by the Pacers with the tenth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

As a pro George has earned five All-Star Game appearances (most among 2008 prospects) while also being a four-time All-NBA and three-time All-Defensive team selection. George’s first All-Star Game appearance came in a season in which he was also named the NBA’s Most Improved Player (2012-13). Considered to be one of the top all-around players in the NBA, George has career averages of 18.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

2. DAMIAN LILLARD (UR)

Like George, Lillard was also a prospect who was unable to crack the final Rivals Top 150 rankings for the Class of 2008. And like George, Lillard landed at a school — Weber State — where he would have ample opportunities to shine. He did just that, averaging 18.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in three-plus seasons at Weber State.

A two-time Big Sky Player of the Year, Lillard would be selected by Portland with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Lillard, the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year, is a three-time All Star selection and has also made three All-NBA teams during his time with the Trail Blazers.

3. DRAYMOND GREEN (122)

Green is the highest-ranked player on this list who spent four years in college, and during his time at Michigan State he developed into one of college basketball’s most versatile players. In addition to being a Consensus All-American as a senior Green was also Big Ten Player of the Year, averaging 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

Yet that wasn’t enough to land Green in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, with Golden State selecting him with the 35th overall pick. It’s safe to say that the Warriors got an absolute steal in Green, whose versatility offensively has translated to the NBA and he’s also one of the league’s best defenders. The 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year (and three-time All Defensive Team selection), Green has made three All-Star Game appearances and is also a two-time All-NBA selection.

DeMar DeRozan (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

4. DEMAR DEROZAN (3)

DeRozan remained close to home for his college career, making the short trek from Compton to play one season at USC. In his lone season as a Trojan, DeRozan averaged 13.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game before being selected by Toronto with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

His nine seasons with the Raptors were quite successful, with DeRozan helping to turn the team into a perennial factor in the East and earning four All-Star game appearances in the process. Also a two-time All-NBA selection, DeRozan averaged 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as a Raptor before being traded to San Antonio earlier this summer.

5. KEMBA WALKER (14)

Of the players on this list it can be argued that Walker’s collegiate career was the most successful. Two seasons after contributing as a reserve on UConn’s 2009 Final Four team Walker led the Huskies on a remarkable postseason run, winning five games in five days to take the Big East tournament and then going on to win the national title.

As a junior Walker was a Consensus All-American and national player of the year candidate, and he would go on to be selected by Charlotte with the ninth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Walker’s NBA career has been a success as well, with the point guard being an All Star each of the last two seasons and averaging 18.9 points, 5.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.

6. KLAY THOMPSON (51)

After a high school career that saw Thompson land just outside of the Top 50 he headed north to play three seasons at Washington State. During his time on the Palouse Thompson averaged 17.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, which includes a junior season in which he accounted for 21.6 points per game and shot nearly 40 percent from three.

Thompson’s production was good enough to see him get drafted by Golden State with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and since then he’s developed into a player who will likely (when his career ends) go down as one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history. Thompson’s been an All-Star selection each of the last four seasons, and in addition to being a key contributor on three NBA champion teams he’s also a two-time All-NBA selection.

7. ISAIAH THOMAS (92)

After finishing his high school career at South Kent Prep, Thomas would spend three seasons at Washington and average 16.4 points, 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. Thomas would develop into one of the top guards in the Pac-10 during his time in Seattle, but the production wasn’t good enough to convince most NBA teams to take a chance on him come draft day. Sacramento selected Thomas with the last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, and he wound up averaging 11.5 points per game as a rookie.

After three seasons with the Kings Thomas would agree to a deal with Phoenix, which traded him to Boston less than a season into that contract. It would be in Boston where Thomas had his greatest success, earning two All-Star Game appearances and averaging 24.7 points and 6.0 assists per game. Thomas suffered a hip injury during Boston’s run to the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, and during that offseason Boston traded him to Cleveland. Thomas spent last season with the Cavaliers and Lakers, with the hip injury keeping him off the court for significant stretches. Now healthy, Thomas agreed to a one-year deal with Denver earlier this summer.

8. GORDON HAYWARD (UR)

Hayward, who fell outside of Rivals’ Top 150, was also an accomplished tennis player in high school. He would sign on to play for Brad Stevens at Butler, and few could have predicted that his collegiate career would last just two seasons. After a solid freshman campaign Hayward was named Horizon League Player of the Year as a sophomore, a season in which he helped lead the Bulldogs to the first of two consecutive national title game appearances and averaged 15.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Hayward would be selected by Utah with the ninth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, and in seven seasons with the Jazz he would average 15.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Hayward made the move to Boston last summer but saw his 2017-18 season come to an end just minutes into the season opener due to a horrific leg/ankle injury.

Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

9. JRUE HOLIDAY (2)

Much was expected of Holiday when he arrived at UCLA, where he averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game during his lone season as a Bruin. It could be argued that in Holiday’s case the NBA game was a better fit for him, and despite those number he was still taken by Philadelphia with the 17th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Holiday’s four seasons in Philadelphia were solid, with the guard earning his first All-Star Game appearance in 2013.

After joining New Orleans as a free agent in 2013 Holiday struggled to stay healthy, playing in a total of 74 games the next two seasons. The more Holiday’s been on the court the better he’s been, with the 2017-18 season being the best of his career to date. Holiday had an impact on both ends of the court last season, averaging 19.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, earning the first All-Defensive team selection of his career.

10. TYREKE EVANS (6)

The versatile Evans was entrusted with running the show for what would turn out to be John Calipari’s final team at Memphis, averaging 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. As a result Evans won the Wayman Tisdale Award, which is given to the nation’s top freshman by the USBWA. That Memphis team reached the Sweet 16, and it came as no surprise that Evans was off to the NBA once that season ended.

Selected by Sacramento with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game as a rookie. For his career Evans, who averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game in Memphis last season, is accounting for 16.5 points, 5.1 assists and 4.8 rebounds per night. Evans signed with the Pacers as a free agent earlier this summer.

11. REGGIE JACKSON (115)

Jackson spent three seasons at Boston College, where as a junior he averaged 18.2 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. One of the ACC’s best guards that season, Jackson would enter the 2011 NBA Draft and be selected with the 24th overall pick by Oklahoma City. Jackson spent three-plus seasons with the Thunder, spending the majority of his time there as Russell Westbrook’s backup.

Looking for a starting role Jackson was traded to Detroit during the 2014-15 season, where he’s been ever since. As a Piston Jackson is averaging 16.6 points, 6.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game, but injuries have limited him to 52 and 45 games over the last two seasons.

12. NIKOLA VUCEVIC (UR)

Vucevic flying under the radar from a rankings standpoint isn’t a huge surprise, as he played just one year of high school basketball in the United States. After a season at Stoneridge Prep it was off to USC, where Vucevic played three seasons and as a junior averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Drafted 16th overall by the 76ers in the 2011 NBA Draft, Vucevic played one season in Philadelphia before being included in a four-team trade that sent him to Orlando. In six seasons with the Magic, Vucevic is averaging 16.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

13. MARCUS MORRIS (29)

At both Kansas and in the NBA Marcus Morris has produced slightly better numbers than twin Markieff, and as a junior he earned Big 12 Player of the Year honors. After averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game Morris was selected by Houston with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Morris spent just over a year with the Rockets before being traded to Phoenix, and he’s also played for Detroit and Boston during his NBA career. Last season Morris averaged 13.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in 54 appearances for the Celtics.

Marcus and Markieff Morris (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

14. MARKIEFF MORRIS (49)

While Markieff’s college numbers weren’t as good as his brother’s, he did manage to be picked one spot higher in the 2011 NBA Draft. After averaging 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a junior Markieff was selected by Phoenix with the 13th pick, and the brothers would be reunited during their second season in the NBA. Morris would remain in Phoenix until the 2015-16 season, when he was traded to Washington. Morris has been a solid member of the Wizards rotation since his arrival, averaging 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season.

15. GREG MONROE (8)

The New Orleans native spent two seasons at Georgetown, averaging 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a collegian. After that it was off to the NBA, with Monroe being drafted by the Pistons with the seventh overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. An All-Rookie Team selection in 2011, Monroe has produced solid numbers during his NBA career with averages of 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. After spending time last season with Milwaukee, Phoenix and Boston, Monroe will reportedly sign with Toronto as a free agent.

16. BRANDON JENNINGS (4)

Jennings took what was, at the time, the road less traveled to the NBA as he played a season in Italy prior to entering the 2009 NBA Draft. A one-time Arizona commit, Jennings was selected tenth overall in that draft by Milwaukee, where he spent four seasons and was an All-Rookie Team selection in 2010. Since his first stint in Milwaukee Jennings has played for five teams, and that includes a late-season run with the Bucks last year after a productive stint in China. For his NBA career Jennings, who’s a free agent, is averaging 14.1 points and 5.7 assists per game.

17. IMAN SHUMPERT (39)

Shumpert’s three-year career at Georgia Tech was a very good one, and as a junior he became the seventh player in ACC history to lead his team in points, rebounds and assists. After averaging 17.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game it was off to the NBA for Shumpert, who was selected by the Knicks with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Shumpert’s been more of a defensive stopper in the NBA, and after receiving a reprieve in the form of his being traded to Cleveland during the 2014-15 season the following year he would win an NBA title. Shumpert was traded to Sacramento last season but did not appear in a game for the Kings due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

18. AL-FAROUQ AMINU (7)

Aminu spent two seasons at Wake Forest before turning pro. Aminu averaged 15.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore, which was good enough to get him selected by the Clippers with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Aminu’s played for four different teams, with his best run coming as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Aminu’s defensive versatility has made him a valuable member of the Portland rotation, and last season he averaged 9.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

19. ED DAVIS (15)

After serving as a reserve on North Carolina’s 2009 national title team as a freshman, Davis averaged 13.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game as a sophomore. And with that Davis was off to the NBA, going 13th overall to Toronto in the 2010 NBA Draft. A rotation big man who’s played with five different NBA teams, Davis boasts career averages of 6.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Next season Davis will be playing for a sixth NBA team, as he agreed to a deal with the Nets earlier this summer.

20. SHELVIN MACK (UR)

Mack played in back-to-back national title games with the Butler Bulldogs before getting drafted in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. He’s since bounced around the league, but he’s managed to put together a career that spans seven years to date.

21. WILLIAM BUFORD (19)

A McDonald’s All-American out of Libbey HS in Toledo, Buford finished his Ohio State career as one of the program’s top scorers. Over the course of four seasons Buford averaged 13.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, finishing with 1,990 career points. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2009, Buford earned third team all-conference honors as a sophomore and second team as both a junior and senior. Undrafted, Buford spent the early stages of his professional career in the G-League before playing the last two seasons in Europe.

22. KYLE O’QUINN (UR)

O’Quinn was an unheralded recruit out of high school, ultimately becoming the focal point of a Norfolk State program that would pull off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history during his senior season. In four years at Norfolk State O’Quinn averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, winning MEAC Player of the Year as a senior. And he would lead the 15-seed Spartans to an upset win over Missouri in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament. Drafted by Orlando with the 49th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, O’Quinn has been a rotation big in the NBA and has career averages of 5.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

22. TREY THOMPKINS (30)

Thompkins may not have spent much time in the NBA, appearing in 24 games for the Clippers during the 2011-12 season, but that shouldn’t lead to what he accomplished in college being ignored. An SEC All-Freshman Team selection in 2009, Thompkins was a first team all-conference choice in each of his final two seasons at Georgia. For his career Thompkins, who was selected by the Clippers with the 37th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, averaged 15.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Thompkins has experienced success playing overseas, most recently playing for Real Madrid in the Spanish ACB.

23. TU HOLLOWAY (100)

Holloway’s four year career at Xavier was a highly productive one, as he was a two-time first team All-Atlantic 10 selection and the conference’s Player of the Year in 2011. During Holloway’s junior season, in which he averaged 19.7 points, 5.4 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game, he was also a third team AP All-American. While Holloway was not drafted in 2012 he has enjoyed a successful career overseas, most recently signing with Istanbul BB for the 2018-19 season.

24. TYLER ZELLER (33)

Zeller’s freshman season at North Carolina was capped by a national title, and by the time his UNC career was complete the 7-footer managed to earn ACC Player of the Year and consensus All-America honors as a senior. As a senior Zeller averaged 16.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, shooting 55.3 percent from the field. Drafted by Dallas with the 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Zeller’s played for four teams and is averaging 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

25. ANDREW NICHOLSON (UR)

If you happen to wonder why the aforementioned Holloway didn’t win Atlantic 10 Player of the Year as a senior, Nicholson would be the reason why. During a senior season in which he averaged 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, not only was Nicholson the A-10 Player of the Year but he was also the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and an Honorable Mention All-American. In four seasons at St. Bonaventure, Nicholson averaged 17.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, which led to he being selected by Orlando with the 19th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Nicholson, who played in China last season, averaged 6.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in five NBA seasons for the Magic, Wizards and Nets.

Byron Mullens (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

FIVE NOTABLES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP 25

BRYON MULLENS (1)

Mullens, the top prospect in the Class of 2008, played just one season at Ohio State and only two of his 33 appearances were starts. After averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game Mullens went pro, with the Mavericks taking him 24th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. Mullens averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in the NBA, playing for four teams over the course of five seasons.

WILLIE WARREN (10)

Warren was productive in his two seasons at Oklahoma, averaging 15.2 points and 3.5 assists per game, but that did not translate to the NBA. Drafted 54th overall by the Clippers in the 2010 NBA Draft, Warren appeared in 19 games as a rookie and averaged 1.9 points per game. Warren most recently played professionally in the G-League for the Texas Legends.

JAMYCHAL GREEN (21)

Green was a two-time All-SEC selection during his time at Alabama, landing on the first team as a junior and getting a second team nod as a senior. In four seasons Green, who would go undrafted, averaged 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Despite not hearing his name called on draft night Green has managed to carve out a solid NBA career for himself, making his debut during the 2014-15 season and averaging 10.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game (both career highs) for Memphis last season.

LUKE BABBITT (31)

Babbitt enjoyed a very good two-year run at Nevada, winning WAC Player of the Year honors after averaging 21.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Selected by Minnesota with the 16th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Babbitt was traded to Portland on draft night and would spend his first three NBA seasons with the Trail Blazers. Babbitt, who’s averaging 4.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game for his career, has since played for the Pelicans, Heat (two stints) and Hawks.

MARCUS DENMON (150)

After serving as a reserve in each of his first two seasons at Missouri, Denmon moved into a starring role as an upperclassman and earned first team All-Big 12 honors as both a junior and a senior. Averaging 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game as a senior, Denmon was also a consensus second team All-American. Selected by the Spurs with the 59th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft Denmon has not appeared in an NBA game, instead plying his trade overseas.

Baylor’s Jake Lindsey out for season after hip surgery

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Jake Lindsey’s senior season is going to be delayed a year.

The Baylor guard will miss the upcoming season after undergoing hip surgery, he announced Sunday.

“I will be redshirting this season as I recover from hip surgery,” Lindsey wrote on Twitter. “I can’t wait to help the team this year in a different role as I recover. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been helping me in this time, whether you know it or not.”

The 6-foot-5 guard has averaged more than 20 minutes per game the last two seasons as a 3-point shooting specialist and distributor. He averaged just 4.5 points per game last season, but dished out 3.4 assists while shooting 34.1 percent from distance (down from 40.4 percent as a sophomore). He will have one season of eligibility remaining in 2019-20 after sitting out this season.

Lindsey, whose father Dennis is the general manager of the Utah Jazz, battled the hip injury throughout much of last season, but did not miss any games as a result. His loss will be acute for the Bears, who lost four seniors off last year’s No. 1 seed NIT team including point guard Manu Lecomte.

Five Takeaways from Duke’s Canada Exhibitions

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Just like Kentucky did two weeks ago, the Duke Blue Devils spent last week traveling abroad to play in exhibition games that were televised.

Kentucky went south, heading to the Bahamas.

Duke made the trip up north so that Canadian R.J. Barrett would have a chance to play in front of his home crowd.

And while it was a little bit easier to see what Kentucky will have a chance to be this season — we’ll get into why that is later — we did get our first chance to see what Duke could look like.

Here are the four things that we learned:

Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP

R.J. BARRETT IS THE TRUTH, BUT ZION WILLIAMSON SHOULD LIVE UP TO THE HYPE

At this point, everyone should know more or less what R.J. Barrett is.

He was the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2018 despite the fact that he reclassified last summer. (He turned 18 this summer, meaning that he is enrolling in college in what would be considered the normal year.) There is a long way to go still, but he is thought to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field when it comes to the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Last summer, he put 38 points, 13 boards and six assists on the USA team at the U-19 World Cup, which became first time since 2011 that USA Basketball was not the reigning champion at any age group in international competition.

Put another way, seeing Barrett steamroll a bunch of Canadian college basketball players should not be surprising if you know what he did against a team that included the likes of Carsen Edwards, Kevin Huerter, P.J. Washington and Romeo Langford, not to mention Barrett’s current Duke teammate, Cam Reddish. In three games, he averaged 30.7 points, 8.0 boards and 5.0 assists.

What was more eye-opening was the way that Zion Williamson played.

Williamson is college basketball’s first superstar of the internet age. His other-worldly athleticism has turned him into a social media machine. He has 1.7 million followers on Instagram. There are YouTube channels that have sprung to life simply because they were able to post his high school dunk. When he was a junior in high school, Drake wore his jersey. Every teenage basketball fan knows who he is.

The question about Williamson has long been whether or not he is more than just an athlete. He never left his local South Carolina high school, which is why those viral videos of him dunking often looked like he was playing against, well, me. He played on the Adidas circuit in high school, which is good but is not at the same level as the EYBL. I’m not sure there is a person on the planet that can match his explosiveness and quickness while checking in at 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, as Duke lists him, but the question about his potential as a pro has always been what will happen when he is not longer on another planet athletically.

And at the risk of overreacting to three exhibition games against overmatched competition, I am much more bullish on him as a prospect today than I was a week ago.

There are three reasons for that:

  1. Williamson has a higher basketball IQ and is a better passer than I realized. It’s the little moments that give it away: finding a shooter after an offensive rebound, seeing a backdoor cut even if the pass he threw was not good enough to get the assist, the outlet passes he would throw to streaking guards before he even landed after grabbing a defensive rebound. He reads the game.
  2. He’s underrated as a ball-handler. He’s also hardly a finished product there, but he has good enough handle that he can be a sensation as a grab-and-go big in transition and will be able to beat bigger (well, slower, he’s pretty big) defenders off the bounce. That’s key because his shooting still needs work.
  3. He just plays so damn hard. When someone his size with his leaping ability decides that they want to go and get a rebound, how are you going to stop him? And while things like handle or shooting or defensive positioning can be taught, ‘motor’ cannot.

Williamson probably could stand to lose 20 or 25 pounds*, which will likely also help with him improving on his conditioning; he seemed to tire for stretches in these exhibitions, which is understandable considering the load he and Barrett carried and the fact that, you know, he is 285 pounds. And that jumper needs some consistency.

But those are fairly easy problems to fix, all things considered.

Which is why I think Williamson is going to come much closer to living up to the hype than I did before this trip.

*(The “Zion is fine at 285” crowd annoys me. Yes, he’ll be just fine playing at 285 pounds or whatever he is. But if he’s able to do all of this while carrying baby weight around, imagine what he’ll do once he streamlines his body.)

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

DUKE’S DEPTH IS GOING TO BE AN ISSUE

Duke had a bunch of injuries on this trip.

I know.

Cam Reddish didn’t play. Tre Jones didn’t play. Alex O’Connell lasted all of three minutes in the first game before fracturing a bone in his face. That’s three of Duke’s top six players heading into next season.

The problem?

Without those three, Duke was forced to start the likes of Jack White, Antonio Vrankovic and Jordan Goldwire in lineups that included both Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden. I expect White will play a larger role this season because, if nothing else, he’s going to be one of the best shooters on the roster and can play a forward spot. Goldwire is fine as a point guard off the bench, I guess, and Vrankovic is big enough and serviceable enough to play emergency minutes.

Those guys are fine for the end of the bench, but the problem that will arise is that “the end of Duke’s bench” looks like it is going to start with the eighth man.

And that’s assuming that Marques Bolden becomes a trusted part of Coach K’s rotation. In the three exhibitions in Canada, Bolden played a total of just 39 minutes, missing all three of his shot attempts without taking a single free throw while grabbing all of nine rebounds.

My guess?

Duke plays the majority of this season with a six-man rotation, using O’Connell off the bench to spell whoever needs a rest and allowing Williamson to play the five when Javin DeLaurier needs a blow.

Depth is something that I think is overrated in college basketball given how many TV timeouts there are during a game. Villanova has won two of the last three national titles despite using rotations that end at seven guys. Syracuse routinely makes runs in March with teams that have just five or six guys that see minutes. It’s great to have 13 players on scholarship that can contribute, but only five of them can see the floor at a time. When your best players are going to get 30-35 minutes a night, having too many guys that deserve to play can lead to discontentment.

So I’m not sure this is going to cripple Duke’s season.

But in a sport where titles are won in one-game knockout tournaments, a poorly-timed sprained ankle or some simple foul trouble can be a killer.

Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP

THIS TEAM IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN TO WATCH

If there is one thing that we can learn from the way that Duke played in Canada, it’s that this team is likely going to play fast, fast, fast.

I’m not sure there will be any player in the college basketball this year that can grab-and-go the way that Barrett and Williamson can, and that’s before you even factor in that Reddish — a silky 6-foot-8 wing — will be able to do the same thing, and that Tre Jones will actually be the point guard on this roster.

Imagine being an opposing point guard and seeing Barrett or Williamson come at you with a full head of steam in transition. That’s nightmare fuel.

This group is also switchable defensively, and I’ve been told that they have already been tinkering with lineups that allow Williamson to play the five, a la the ‘Death Lineup’ that the Golden State Warriors roll out with Draymond Green playing center.

There is a lot to like about this group, but that leads me to my single-biggest concern about this team …

… DUKE IS GOING TO HAVE TO FIND SHOOTING SOMEWHERE

Part of the reason I think Duke is going to be a transition-heavy team is that they have the players to thrive in that kind of a system.

But I also think that it will partly be by necessity, as Duke has a roster that is loaded with perimeter talent without having all that much perimeter shooting.

Put another way, Villanova made small-ball work for them last season because every single player in their top six was a lethal three-point shooter. Golden State makes it work because they have three of the greatest shooters in the history of the sport on the roster.

Barrett? The biggest knock on him as a prospect is that he is an inconsistent shooter, and that was backed up by a 6-for-21 (28%) performance in Canada. The same thing can be said about Williamson, who shot 3-for-9 (33%) from three on the trip, and one of his three makes was a ball that bricked off the back of the rim, hit the backboard and happened to drop in. Reddish and Jones are both guys that can make threes, but they are probably better described as scorers more than shooters.

Throw in someone like a DeLaurier or a Bolden, and suddenly the paint gets awfully clogged.

I currently have Duke sitting at No. 4 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25 — behind Kansas, Gonzaga and Kentucky — because of those question marks from beyond the arc.

This trip did nothing to alleviate those concerns.

VIDEO: Duke’s Zion Williamson takes flight in final exhibition win

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Duke played this trip short-handed and against competition that wasn’t exactly overwhelming, but the Blue Devils still looked pretty impressive steam-rolling the teams they did play.

And while I say “the Blue Devils”, I really mean Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Barrett is widely considered the better prospect, but Williamson was the one that put on a show all weekend, and today’s game against McGill was no different.

Providence freshman David Duke Jr. takes flight in Italy

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Having reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last five seasons, the Providence basketball program has begun its preparations for a run at a sixth straight appearance in Italy.

Ed Cooley’s team, which beat the Varese All-Stars by a final score of 113-46 on Thursday, was back in action Saturday with the Adriatic Sea Dragons serving as the opposition. And during one sequence freshman guard David Duke Jr., part of a highly-anticipated recruiting class, showed exactly why so many have been high on the Providence native since he made his commitment to stay home.

Duke stole a pass in the backcourt and then took off towards the basket, with a backpedaling defender serving as “resistance.” The end result was a lesson in what can happen when you wind up underneath the basket, and the man with the ball is a high-level finisher.

Much is expected from Providence’s four-member freshman class, but there’s plenty to expect from the returnees as well. Alpha Diallo is one of the Big East’s best wing talents, and contributors such as Kalif Young, Nate Watson and Makai Ashton-Langford appear poised to take a step forward in 2018-19.

Add in the return of Emmitt Holt, whose minutes are being limited in Italy after an abdominal issue sidelined him for all of last season, and Providence has the tools needed to not only make another NCAA tournament appearance but contend in the Big East as well.

R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson combine for 59 in Duke win

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Two days removed from a win over Ryerson in the first of three exhibition games the team will play in Canada, Duke took on the University of Toronto Friday afternoon in Mississauga, Ontario. And as was the case Wednesday, prized freshmen R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson led the way in the Blue Devils’ 96-60 victory.

Barrett, who scored 34 points against McGill, tallied 35 on Friday while Williamson added another 24. Duke finished the game with three double-digit scorers as Joey Baker, who’s also a freshman, added 11 off the bench.

Duke hasn’t been able to use its full roster in Canada, as freshmen Cam Reddish and Tre Jones are both being held out due to health concerns. Reddish is nursing a groin strain, while Jones is recovering from a hip injury suffered before he arrived at Duke. The Blue Devils were down another rotation player Friday, as guard Alex O’Connell suffered a broken orbital bone during Wednesday’s game.

While those absences have given Barrett and Williamson even more opportunities to shine with the basketball in their hands, it also opens the door for other players to make a positive impression on Mike Krzyzewski and the rest of the coaching staff. On Friday it was Baker who took advantage, with Antonio Vrankovic (eight points, eight rebounds) and Jack White (six points, five assists) being two other players who performed well off the bench.

Duke wraps up its trip with a game against McGill Sunday afternoon in Montreal.

Video credit: FrankieVision