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The Athletic Looks At Duke’s Roster For This Coming Season

This is a nice breakdown of what Jon Scheyer is working with

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Duke v Tennessee
 ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MARCH 18: Tyrese Proctor #5 of the Duke Blue Devils dribbles the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first half in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Amway Center on March 18, 2023 in Orlando, Florida.
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Athletic’s Brendan Marks does an extended analysis of Duke’s roster for next season, as it stands now anyway. It’s possible that Duke could still add another player but we’ll see about that.

He looks at two big questions for Duke next year: a) how the Blue Devils will handle center and b) how the guards will work out.

We think that Christian Reeves could be a surprise. He can carve out a role if he just rebounds and defends. Offense can come later.

Kyle Filipowski might end up at center, but that might not be ideal, especially on defense. Ryan Young returns and he’ll be useful too. Mark Mitchell and Sean Stewart could see time in the post, though that wouldn’t be ideal.

The backcourt, as Marks notes, is loaded, with Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor returning starters, Jaylen Blakes, Jaden Schutt, Jared McCain and Caleb Foster all fighting for time.

One of Marks’s questions is how Duke will manage to find time for them and he’s right that some will play more than others obviously. But allow us to suggest two ways to find them all minutes: first, that level of depth allows for relentless defensive pressure. Both Roach and Proctor are excellent defenders. If the other guys can crank up to a high level, Duke’s defense has the potential to be absolutely suffocating. Offense? That will sort itself out. Defense? We’ve already seen that that is Jon Scheyer’s calling card.

For that matter, Mitchell, who has already proven himself an outstanding defender, and Stewart are mobile forwards who could contribute to the pressure. You could reasonably rotate a guard in for relief although that would work better with an eraser inside. Right now, the only candidate for that is Reeves.

He also touches on freshman TJ Power who will immediately lead the team in bad pun headlines. But he’s apparently made a solid impression with the staff and may be ahead of schedule and, potentially, a stretch four type player. That would make it possible to play Filipowski on the inside rather than a stretch four himself.

What we like about this team, and we have to see more of the younger players, some of whom, along with Young, may not be as athletic as the rest. But just looking at the roster from June, what we see is a core of athletic guys who should be able to push hard on defense and get up and down the court in a hurry. And that suggests that Duke will need superb conditioning, but also depth. So it’s possible minutes may not be the issue that Marks thinks it could be. We’ll have to see.

Small note: he doesn’t mention Stanford transfer Neil Begovich. We don’t know much about him but he didn’t play much with the Cardinal. It’s possible that there are reasons for that of course - he might have been injured or maybe he’s a late bloomer who developed rapidly recently.

Or it’s also possible that Scheyer just wanted another older big guy to help out in practice. There’s nothing wrong with that. Like a lot of schools, Duke has had guys who distinguished themselves as practice players, notably including Scott Goetsch, who backed up Mike Gminski very, very well, and Justin Robinson, who started as a walk-on and who became an incredibly valuable player despite rarely seeing the court until the last few months of his Duke career.

One of the biggest compliments Mike Krzyzewski ever paid to one of his players was to say of Matt Jones that “that kid never had a bad practice.”

In other words, you don’t have to play heavy minutes to have a big influence.