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Although it was expected, Wendell Carter provided the most drama for Duke fans as they awaited the final NBA draft decision from the team’s star freshmen. That finally came Monday as Carter announced his decision to turn pro, joining fellow freshmen Gary Trent Jr., Trevon Duval and Marvin Bagley III in leaving Duke after one season.
Trent’s decision was probably the least certain of the four teammates who started almost the entire season alongside senior captain Grayson Allen, but he took advantage of a strong freshman season that saw make 97 3-pointers, breaking JJ Redick’s record for a Duke freshman.
NEW STARTING 5
With Duke’s entire starting five off to the NBA, the Blue Devils will once again turn to a freshman-heavy starting lineup next season. Tre Jones is expected to step in and take over as the starting point guard, RJ Barrett will open the year as the starting shooting guard, Cam Reddish will be the small forward, Zion Williamson the power forward and rising junior Marques Bolden the starting center. Who will be the captains is the biggest mystery at this point, with Bolden and fellow junior Javin DeLaurier the most experienced regular rotation guys returning.
BAGLEY IS TEAM MVP
On Wednesday night, Marvin Bagley became the sixth freshman — and fifth in as many years — to receive at least a share of team MVP honors under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, joining Johnny Dawkins (1983), Jabari Parker (2014), Jahlil Okafor (2015), Brandon Ingram (2016) and Jayson Tatum (2017). Grayson Allen took home the top scholar-athlete award along with the Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Award.
CONFERENCE foes ANNOUNCED
Duke is scheduled for home-and-home contests next season with North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia and Wake Forest, only home games against Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and N.C. State and only road games at Louisville, Notre Dame, Florida State, Pitt and Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils open the 2018-19 season against Kentucky on Nov. 6 in Indianapolis in the State Farm Champions Classic, which will be the tipoff event for all of college basketball. Michigan State will take on Kansas in the other half of the Classic doubleheader.
BUSY SPRING RECRUITING
Coach K wasted no time looking for new talent in the class of 2019, as he has hit the recruiting trail harder than ever during the first two open recruiting periods this April. Krzyzewski and his assistants conducted in-home visits with numerous five-star recruits, including Matthew Hurt, Isaiah Stewart, Vernon Carey, Joseph Girard, Wendell Moore, Bryan Antoine, Scottie Lewis and the already verbally committed Joey Baker. Duke will need another large class after this season as all four members of the 2018 recruiting class have one-and-done potential.
GRASSROOTS SEASON BEGINS
The top high school basketball players in the country convene in Dallas this weekend as all three sneaker company circuits hold events in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Nike’s EYBL, adidas’ Grassroots and Under Armour’s Association will feature nearly every top basketball recruit nationally on a multitude of teams. The Duke coaching staff will be out in force scouring rosters for its next targets, as well as making sure their faces are seen front and center for their top targets. Two of those top targets in the class of 2019, Stewart and Girard, play together for City Rocks on the EYBL Circuit while another two, Antoine and Lewis, team up for Under Armour’s Team Rio.
FOOTBALL ENDS SPRING PRACTICE
In front of a solid crowd at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday, April 14, Daniel Jones threw two touchdowns — one to tight end Noah Gray and one to wide receiver TJ Rahming — as the Blue Devils put their first team offense and their first team defense for much of a controlled 50-snap scrimmage. The defense was once again on display as All-ACC performers, linebacker Joe Giles-Harris and cornerback Mark Gilbert, were all over the field. David Cutcliffe’s 11th Duke team now has the spring and summer off before opening the season against Army at home on Sept. 1.
While they are not projected to be a Top 25 team at this time, this Duke team could easily jump in to the rankings with a strong start against Army, Northwestern, Baylor and North Carolina Central.