Duke has released two videos from summer scrimmages and for us, the guy who surprised us the most was Northwestern transfer Ryan Young.
And it’s not just us. Dariq Whitehead, who so far appears to be the most talented player on this year’s roster knows it too, telling the News & Observer’s Steve Wiseman that “I’m sure even the coaches didn’t realize he was that good.”
And as you've seen if you’ve watched the videos, he’s pretty good despite not being hugely talented. He doesn’t jump high or run fast. But to paraphrase something Larry Bird once said, not having great natural talent means you have to outwork and outthink guys who do, which means it can actually be an advantage.
There’s a lot you can’t learn from those brief videos. It’s not really possible to see what could frustrate or stymie Young or how he would deal with being double teamed by guys he’s never seen before. So there’s a lot we can’t possibly know until we see it.
But what we can see is this. He’s smart enough to spot even a slight advantage and skilled enough to get shots off against Dereck Lively, who is a highly promising defender, and Kyle Filipowski, who lacks Lively’s high-end athleticism but who is still more athletic than Young and more powerful too.
He’s also an excellent passer, and this is important, he makes quick decisions.
And when he gets inside against a talented big guy, he can use his body to provide space and has enough skill with the ball to do a finger roll with impressive control.
All of this adds up to a guy who, far from being just depth, adds some real pop to the roster. This is a funny compliment, but think about it: he would have really been a huge addition in Virginia’s system and we bet Tony Bennett loves the way he plays.
Again, we won’t know everything until we see him in action, but based on what we now know, we’re really glad he chose Duke.