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Duke Basketball’s Class Of 2019

Unless there’s a late addition this should be it.

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Jordan Brand Classic
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 20: Boogie Ellis #23 passes during the Jordan Brand Classic boys high school all-star basketball game at T-Mobile Arena on April 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

With the commitment of Cassius Stanley Monday, Duke’s incoming freshman class is now up to five and is generally regarded as the top class in the country. It’s also likely to be one of the most versatile.

Vernon Carey is a solid big man. He plays hard too. He’ll be a big asset, no pun intended and he’s more varied offensively than you might think with range that extends out to almost the three point line. He has a useful post game too and he’s listed anywhere from 240 to a Zion-esque 275. He’ll probably need to be less Zionesque. He’s taller but not many guys can carry that much weight.

Matthew Hurt is a talented stretch four who should be a tremendous asset offensively. He’s got excellent range and is pretty athletic although he’s still very thin and could use some of the weight Carey might shed. Hurt averaged 36.8 ppg in high school and got into stratospheric Pete Maravich range with 3,819 total career points.

Just for reference, Maravich scored 3,667 points during his LSU career and averaged - averaged mind you - 44.2 ppg. The scoring record has stood since 1970. No one is breaking it next year either so it’ll be a 50-year record. It’ll only be broken by a guy from a smaller school (someone like Campbell’s Chris Clemson who came reasonably close this year) because anyone at, say, LSU who averages 30 ppg won’t stay for four years. And even then it will have an asterisk since Maravich set his record in three seasons, before freshman eligibility.

Wendell Moore is a solid 6-6 kid who is versatile offensively and a long-armed defender. He may still grow some more too and could end up closer to 6-8. He’s been described as a Swiss Army knife of a player.

He has three point range with his coach saying he’s hit somewhere between 46-48 percent - are you noticing a theme here? - and is a dedicated defender. He also has the habit of winning and that’s something Coach K finds very appealing (Moore and his Cox Mill teammates have won three state NC state titles).

In high school he wore the number 0 and in our memory, the only Duke player to wear 0 was Austin Rivers.

The California backcourt is kind of fun too. Stanley, who Duke really got after quite late, is highly athletic, if not elite then certainly close to it.

The quick take on Stanley has been he’s highly athletic but lacks a jump shot. That may sound familiar but while Stanley isn’t as burly as Zion Williamson, he has steadily improved his jumper and in high school has become three point threat, shooting a respectable 38.6 ppg.

However he is a superb slasher and finisher and he doesn’t mind playing defense. Like all young players he needs to work on skills but Stanley is immensely promising.

Don’t expect to see him in Durham for long. Aside from the normal NBA thing, he’s going to be a 20 year old freshman when the season starts and that means his professional biological clock is ticking.

Boogie Ellis (real name: Rejean) is likely to play behind Tre Jones this year, and possibly Jordan Goldwire, who has certainly established himself as a solid defensive guard. Having four very good guards is a problem that most coaches won’t mind.

Ellis is a twitchy quick guard who can play both backcourt spots but his size and quickness will probably keep him at point guard at least on offense. Being guarded every day by Jones and Goldwire is going to really toughen him up.

If he shows the intensity on defense that Jones and Goldwire have already shown, Duke could have a terrific press. Toss in Moore and possibly Stanley and it could be superb.

Ellis is really quick and he has outstanding range. He can lose a defender on a jab step and stick a deep three; he can also get to the basket.

We’re not totally sold on his ball handling but it’s not horrible or anything so we’ll withhold judgment.

Our biggest question about Ellis is the same as we have with Hurt. At 6-2 (maybe) and 165 (maybe), he’s very slight for the college game. Toughness can overcome that to an extent but Ellis has a small frame and is unlikely to ever be massively powerful.

No one knows yet how next year’s team will shape up just yet but there will be some very good defenders, starting with Jones and Goldwire. Moore is likely to be ahead of the curve on that end too and the three of them would be a serious base for any defense.

We don’t know yet how passionate Ellis and Stanley are about defense but they certainly have the tools.

This year’s Duke team was superb defensively but erratic offensively especially from outside. That shouldn’t be a problem this year as all the freshmen can shoot and several of the returnees can as well.

We can anticipate some things but it’s impossible to know what to expect until Coach K gets under the hood and starts tinkering (our Scott Rich is doing a much more detailed look at Duke’s 2020 prospects so be sure to check out his series on next season).

You might get some idea of the parameters though when you factor in quickness, solid defense and adding five good shooters to returnees Alex O’ Connell, Joey Baker, Jack White and Jones, all of whom are capable offensively. Jones has been the least reliable here but he’s certainly not hopeless and we would expect a summer of work to yield improvement.

Two other keys are going to be Carey’s conditioning and how much muscle Hurt can pick up.

Here is Duke’s Class of 2019 (using ESPN’s rankings), other than any late additions. And with Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier both exploring their NBA options soon, there might be.

  • No. 5 Vernon Carey
  • No. 10 Matthew Hurt
  • No. 21 Wendell Moore
  • No. 29 Cassius Stanley
  • No. 36 Boogie Ellis.
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