The Blue Devils, with the probable returnees and the recruiting class have addressed the vast majority of roster needs for next season. Clearly there are still things that can happen between now and the start of the season and decisions still to be made but for those who take stock in the rankings the Blue Devils should enter the season as a top-10 team, these March Madness odds for 2021 show that the oddsmakers are bullish on the Devils. As we saw this season with youth comes vulnerability and sometimes inconsistency. With 2 seniors, a junior and 2 sophomores to go along with the 6 freshmen the Blue Devils are young but have a couple of older players in key places.
As decisions begin to trickle in from players on the 2019-2020 Blue Devil roster, the latest being the announcement by Cassius Stanley to enter his name and declare for the NBA draft. For Stanley who was a tad older than most freshmen, the decision made perfect sense. Stanley showed a level of athleticism that one could call generational. Stanley also proved to be a fairly reliable shooter for the Blue Devils, shooting 36% from beyond the arc. The other significant announcement that we touched on earlier in the week was the recommitment of Patrick Tapé, the grad transfer from Columbia University who had both earlier committed and recommitted.
The addition of Tapé and the exit of Stanley as well as the probable announcement of Vernon Carey Jr. that he will enter his name in the draft probably solidifies the Blue Devil roster for next year. The exit of Tre Jones to the NBA Draft means that the keys to the kingdom will fall into the hands of senior Jordan Goldwire as well as freshmen Jeremy Roach. Ball-handling was occasionally an issue for the Blue Devils this past season but the addition of DJ Steward at the 2 guard spot should help to alleviate some of those concerns. Steward is a scoring guard with a very fluid offensive game that will provide the Blue Devils a formidable backcourt. Wendell Moore returning for his sophomore season will be a huge bump for the Blue Devils as well, Moore showed flashes of brilliance this season and as the youngest of the freshmen on the 2019-2020 squad he probably has the highest ceiling. If Moore can make the typical jump from year one to year two his versatility on both ends could be the x-factor for a young Blue Devil squad.
Where the Blue Devils have some options are at the forward spot. The Blue Devils are expecting a sophomore Matthew Hurt to be part of the roster for next season and with a sophomore jump, Hurt could be one of the focal points of the Blue Devil offense. In Hurt and junior Joey Baker the Blue Devils return 2 of their best 3 point shooters, both shot just under 40% from beyond the arc this past season. Freshmen Jalen Johnson brings a completely different skillset to the Blue Devils roster in the small forward spot. Johnson at 6’8, is more of a playmaker than Hurt or Baker and fits the mold of the positionless basketball. A point forward who can play multiple positions and is a true alpha-dog for next years squad.
Duke also brings in two other versatile forwards in Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman. Both Brakefield and Coleman are 6’8 and can guard multiple positions and afford the Blue Devils a level of depth that they lacked this past season. The aforementioned Patrick Tapé and freshmen center Mark Williams will anchor the Blue Devils inside. Williams, a true 7 footer is slight of build but still comes in as a very talented prospect, having an older physically imposing player like Tapé to go against in practice should help in Williams’ development.