On a Duke Basketball team that boasts one of the most hyped freshman recruiting classes in college basketball history, it is easy to forget the remarkable progression made by a likely unsung hero, Jack White.
The junior from Traralgon, Australia averaged just over five minutes per contest in his first two seasons at Duke, but if Tuesday night’s demolition of the Kentucky Wildcats indicated anything, it is that White may be the most important cog in the Blue Devil frontcourt.
White played a career-high 30 minutes in the blowout victory, scoring nine points and grabbing 11 rebounds while providing a steadiness on both ends of the floor. But the numbers hardly justify White’s impact on the game.
Not only was White a vocal leader on the floor for Duke’s youngsters, but he also showed relentless effort and hustle for a team that will not always be able to rely on pure talent. White grabbed six offensive rebounds and added two steals on the defensive end, including one where he was extended to the three-point line and jumped a pass that led to a highlight-reel slam for Zion Williamson.
One of Duke’s only weaknesses seemed to be on defense, where their rotations looked a bit sloppy and they conceded 38 free-throw attempts. But White contested every single shot on the interior and prevented Kentucky’s bigs–notably PJ Washington–from ever making a real impact on the game. All of that while drawing talented Kentucky freshman Tyler Herro, whom White helped hold to just one of six from beyond the arc.
Maybe the rest of the nation did not see this coming, but Coach Krzyzewski surely knew. He lauded White in his postgame press conference, but also pointed to his contributions during the team’s Canadian exhibition tour:
🐐: “Jack White in particular — has had a great tour. He’s played like a junior and has been solid. I think he’s probably averaged like 28 minutes a game, which is invaluable for us.”#DukeCanadaTour 🇨🇦🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/N1bAbHzVUx
— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) August 20, 2018
With the added success of Marques Bolden (who looked far more athletic and dynamic than in years past), the Blue Devils need White to continue to provide toughness and leadership as one of the few upperclassmen on the roster. A notable aspect to watch moving forward will be White’s shooting. He can extend out to the three-point arc and add spacing, but he must convert on a better clip in the future after making just one of five attempts against the Wildcats.
Still, White is sure to have an immediate impact this season. Whereas it was widely thought in past years that Antonio Vrankovic would be the big man of the future at Duke, White’s massive strides have made him yet another asset on a Duke team that put the rest of the nation on notice Tuesday evening.