It’s truly a travesty that Duke was ranked at FOUR before the start of this season. With three Top 10 recruits joining Coach K, one of the greatest minds in college basketball, this team was going to figure it out sooner or later. Update: it was sooner.
Following up their thrashing of Kentucky during the Champion’s Classic, Duke got to come home to Durham and put on a show against Army. Unlike the game against Coach Calipari, Duke’s trio of Barrett, Williamson, and Reddish had a very even distribution of points, as each was able to display what makes them such a special talent in what will likely be their only season in college before moving on to the NBA. There really was not much support from the rest of the Blue Devils, but it wasn’t exactly necessary as the trio single-handedly outscored Army by 3 points.
Of course, most of the spotlight was on Zion Williamson, who did not disappoint with a monster stat line of 27 points (9/10 FG) and 16 rebounds, further proving how much of a physical specimen he is. His efficiency was through the roof on this night, seemingly contributing to every basket in one way or another. The concerns going into the season about Williamson’s versatility on the court have already been put to rest, as it has been everything APART from dunking a basketball that has people around the country naming him the best player in the country. We shall see what the rest of the season holds for Zion.
R.J. Barrett was also a key contributor to Duke’s beat down. His scoring prowess was on full display, with playmaking as an additional component that led to such a dominant performance. There are many signs that tell us that Barrett will be a 20+ point scorer on the next level, and despite Williamson outshining him on this occasion, it is still clear to see why he is the likely number one pick come June. Some talks have started of Barrett playing too “selfishly”, which is hard to understand considering not only his own talent, but the success the team has had with Barrett’s current play style.
And then there was Cam Reddish. Always the odd-one out, he actually set a Duke freshman record for three pointers made this game, with 7. In fact, he shot over 50% from outside the arc, which with that high of a volume just goes to show how good of a shooter he really is. His stroke is already extremely polished and NBA-ready, so just seeing him have this good of an all-around game was great to see. Along with his 25 points, he came down with 7 rebounds, which was second on the team, only trailing Zion. The future is certainly bright for this kid, as his defensive abilities were off-the-charts, capped off with 2 steals.
It’s really hard to see Duke losing anytime soon. Their upcoming schedule leads them to be 90% or higher favorites in all of their games until they meet up with Texas Tech on December 20th. By then, this Duke team will gather a lot more chemistry and cohesion, which is surely a scary sight to behold. Only time will tell what this Duke team has in store for the long-term.