Duke Rolls On and Off the Court
The dynasty of Duke University basketball has already been cemented. With five national championships, the Blue Devils trail only North Carolina, Kentucky and University of California at Los Angeles.
From current players like Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram and J.J. Reddick, to past legends like Shane Battier, Grant Hill, and the infamous Christian Laettner, Duke has had its share of premiere players. Even with the storied success of Duke basketball, the 2018-19 team could be their best ever.
RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish are three names you’ll be hearing for a long time. Coming out of high school, the trio were the three top-ranked players in the country, with Barrett coming in at number one, followed by Williamson and Reddish.
Duke bagged Barrett and Reddish earlier in the year, before Williamson made a surprise announcement to attend the school. To make things worse for the rest of the league, Duke secured the number one point guard in the class Tre Jones, brother to Minnesota Timberwolves Tyus Jones, who is ranked number eight overall.
No school in the history of modern basketball has ever signed the top three players out of a class. The closest anyone has come to it was Kentucky’s 2011 class, which featured the number one player in the country Anthony Davis, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, who were ranked numbers 3 and 6.
That team went on to win the national title before Davis left to be the number one overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. On paper, the Duke trio is one of greatest teams to be assembled.
The Blue Devils have been living up to the hype. Through three games, they’re 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 296-202. For their first game of the season, the Blue Devils faced rival Kentucky in a top five matchup.
Duke was ranked preseason fourth, with Kentucky coming in at second. The Blue Devils went on to defeat the Wildcats 118-84 in the worst loss of Kentucky head coach John Calipari’s career.
The trio of Barrett, Williamson and Reddish scored 83 points combined, with the rest of the team scoring just 35. Barrett finished with 33 points, Williamson with 28 and Reddish with 22 of his own.
After defeating Kentucky, the Blue Devils shot to number two in the nation, and following their victory against Army, where the trio combined for 75 points, passed the University of Kansas Jayhawks for the number one spot in the NCAA.
The trio has been setting the league ablaze. Zion Williamson is averaging 25.3 points per game, 10.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists. RJ Barrett is averaging 25.3 points per game himself, along with 4.7 rebound and assists per game.
Cam Reddish got off to a slightly slower start than his teammates, averaging 16.7 points per game, 4.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
If the trio can continue to put up big numbers throughout the season, we could be looking at Duke’s sixth national title soon.