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With the highest rated recruiting class in recent memory, Duke and its’ stars have stolen the spotlight in college basketball. Never before has college basketball seen all top 3 recruits join forces to create a super team but for Duke this dream has become a reality. With superstars like Rj Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Zion Williamson; Duke has the ability to win a national championship, but how good can this team and their stars become?
Coming into the season ranked #4 in the AP polls and with a difficult opening night match against #2 Kentucky, it gave fans the first look at the young but highly talented Duke team. And Duke did not disappoint. Breaking out with an early double digit lead Duke handed Kentucky its worst lost in the Calipari era defeating them by a score of 118-84. Duke’s stars shined the brightest with Barrett, Reddish, and Williamson dishing out a combined 83 points on 57% shooting from the field. As a team, Duke dominated in all aspects of the game and looked like a well oiled machine that just could not be stopped. As individuals, their big three put on a show with high powered dunks, stifling defense, and draining shots from all areas of the court. With a statement win in the Champions Classic it looked like when Duke was at its best no team would be able to stop them.
With more convincing wins over Army, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State, #8 Auburn and then an eventual two point loss to #3 Gonzaga, Duke proved that even when their stars are performing at their worst they can compete with anyone. The question coming into the season has been can the freshmen handle the highest stage of college basketball and the pressure of March Madness? Through the first few weeks of non conference play the answer seems to be yes and Duke is poised for another run at a National Championship.
But what is next for their stars? With the possibility to go 1, 2, 3 in next years NBA draft, all three guys have the potential to become future NBA all stars. The suspected number 1 of the group, RJ Barrett, has been scoring 22.8 points a game while showing off his ability to run an offense. Zion, a prospect with the build of a center but skills of a point guard, has provided highlight after highlight combining his athleticism and playmaking abilities to average close to a double double with 20.7 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. While Reddish has been hitting shots from any spot on the court and still as a third option has dropped 15.7 points a game while shooting 43% from three.
As the season continues and their schedule lightens up until conference play, Duke will keep trying to prove that they are the team to beat come March. No one has denied the talent but can three inexperienced superstars lead their team to a championship? Only time will tell but as of now things are looking bright for the Blue Devils.
(pictures in order The Lafayette Ledger and USA Today)