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Duke guard Alex O’Connell hospitalized after fracturing orbital bone

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Alex O’Connell was taken to the hospital following an eye injury that he suffered early on in Duke’s exhibition win over Ryerson in Toronto on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Duke announced that he suffered an orbital bone fracture and will miss the rest of the trip.

He is expected to make a full recovery.

Early on in the first half, a Ryerson player threw down a dunk and accidentally caught O’Connell with an elbow.

“Alex got hurt right away and heโ€™s in the hospital right now,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “He got hit with an elbow, Iโ€™m not saying it was intentional, but he got hit. Weโ€™re worried about his eye and the socket to see what happened.”

Duke is already dealing with some injury issues on this trip, as two of their four elite freshmen are out. Tre Jones is dealing with a hip injury while Cam Reddish has a lingering groin issue. Both were projected to start for the Blue Devils this season, while O’Connell is thought to be their first guard off the bench.

Duke won the game, 86-67.

Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett highlights in Duke debut

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Duke is making its foreign exhibition debut on Wednesday night, as they battle respected Canadian program Ryerson in front of a packed crowd in Mississauga, Ontario.

It’s also the debut of the highly-touted freshman class that the Blue Devils are bringing in — including forward Zion Williamson and wing (and Canada native) R.J. Barrett.

Barrett and Williamson haven’t disappointed in their Duke debuts as each of the top-five prospects have dominated during stretches of the game. Both freshmen made some stunning highlight-reel plays as well.

Williamson had a monster putback dunk and a goaltend near the top of the square in the first half. Barrett already made an opposing defender look silly as a Ryerson defender made the mistake of jumping with him on a breakaway dunk.

Barrett finished with a game-high 34 points to pace Duke while Williamson had some electric plays in finishing with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Duke continues its Canadian exhibition tour through the end of the weekend as they’ll play a few more exhibitions against Canadian college opponents.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett dunk from free throw line

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By now, every should know that Zion Williamson, Duke’s resident freak of nature, is listed at 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds.

That might mean he’s actually, what, 6-foot-5.5 and 295?

Whatever the case may be, Zion is capable of doing insane things with a basketball in his hands, and he gave us another example of that today, dunking from the free throw line with ease during a practice on Duke’s team trip to Canada:

Here’s another look at that:

If you were wondering, yes, Zion took off from behind the free throw line:

That screenshot came from the video below, where for good measure, the likely No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Duke’s Canadian R.J. Barrett, did the same:

Duke’s Barrett ready for homecoming during Canadian tour

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Duke freshman R.J. Barrett is ready for his homecoming games โ€” and his college career hasn’t even formally begun yet.

The native of Canada figures to be the center of attention when the Blue Devils play three exhibition games north of the border, beginning next week in Barrett’s hometown outside Toronto and also near Montreal.

Barrett says it’s “very surreal” that his debut in a Duke uniform will come in his hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, where the Blue Devils will play twice.

While there are plenty of potential distractions for the top-rated recruit, Barrett says his new teammates will keep him focused. Barrett is the centerpiece of the nation’s consensus No. 1 recruiting class.

“It’s not hard for me, because we have a lot of guys on the team โ€” they keep me grounded, they keep me going,” Barrett said Friday. “Everybody has something on their plate, so everybody just helps out.”

The trip was scheduled in part as a team-building exercise to help a roster packed with the next wave of star freshmen blending with a core of returning players. All five starters are gone from a team that began last season at No. 1 and ended it with an overtime loss to Kansas in the Elite Eight.

Two of those freshmen won’t play due to injuries, but will travel with the team, coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Guard Tre Jones has a hip injury while Cameron Reddish is dealing with a strained groin, he said.

“The main thing is, it’s not so much the practice strategy, it’s to get to know our team โ€” and it’s not just the freshmen, it’s the upperclassmen, how much they’ve improved since the end of the season,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ve done a lot of watching and we’ve been teaching individually, and then collectively, and then to use this time for individual growth and that will give us a better idea of what we’ll start doing in September. … This is all a learning thing and a team-building thing.”

It’ll also give Barrett a chance to show off in front of the home folks.

Barrett, who attended schools in Canada before transferring to Montverde Academy in Florida for his senior year of high school, says his French is “pretty good” but “a little rusty.” He played for the Canadian national team this summer, and grew up watching his godfather, Steve Nash, as well as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, who he says “kind of paved the way for us young guys in Canada.”

He will play against Ryerson on Wednesday and the University of Toronto two days later. The Blue Devils also will play McGill on Aug. 19 just outside Montreal.

“We haven’t really been together for that long, so it’s a different kind of competition,” Barrett said. “It’ll definitely be a challenge.”

Krzyzewski: No ‘plan of execution’ for NCAA hoops reforms

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) โ€” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t believe the NCAA coordinated its reforms well enough.

Speaking two days after the governing body announced numerous changes following a high-profile corruption scandal in college basketball, Krzyzewski on Friday said he approves the intent behind the changes but added that “they don’t have a plan of execution.”

Among the notable changes, the NCAA included provisions allowing agent relationships.

The NCAA proposes that a few high school players identified as elite prospects by USA Basketball be allowed to sign with agents beginning July 1 before their senior year. But the NBA would have to change its age-limit restrictions.

Also, college players who sign with agents may return to school if undrafted, but only if they sought NBA advisory evaluations and participated in the league’s scouting combine. That also would require tweaks to NBA and players’ union rules.

Hachimura, Barrett rated by FIBA as under-21 rising stars

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FIBA released a list of 21 players under the age of 21 that starred in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers that were played in recent weeks, and two potential All-Americans popped up on the list: Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura and Duke’s R.J. Barrett.

We all know the story of Barrett by now. He’s a a 6-foot-6 wing from Canada that put up 38 points, 13 boards and six assists in a semifinal win over Team USA in the U19 World Championships last summer. He’s the top prospect in the Class of 2018 and looks to be the favorite to get picked No. 1 the 2019 NBA Draft.

And Hachimura shouldn’t be a secret here, either. The 6-foot-10 Beninese-Japanese forward was a star for Gonzaga down the stretch last season, and he put on a show in Japan’s win over Australia, going for 24 points and seven boards.

What may be even more interesting are the other names on this list that we are going to see in the college ranks.

Specifically, No. 5: Louisville’s Jordan Nwora. In three games playing for Nigeria, he averaged 21.7 points and 8.0 boards, including a 36-point outburst in a win over Mali. As a freshman with the Cardinals last season, Nwora averaged 5.7 points. Then there is Barrett’s Canadian teammate, Andrew Nembhard, a 6-foot-3 point guard that is headed to Florida. He’s just 18 years old, but he averaged 5.0 assists in 15 minutes playing with Canada’s senior national team. He was ranked 15th on that list.

The other American player is point guard Nico Mannion, a top 15 prospect that just reclassified into the Class of 2019. He was called up to the Italian national team for their final qualifier.