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Duke basketball returns to the court next week - and this injured player could too

Incoming Duke point guard Tre Jones meets the media

Duke incoming freshman point guard Tre Jones meets the media as he attends the K Academy Basketball Fantasy camp in Durham, N.C.
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Duke incoming freshman point guard Tre Jones meets the media as he attends the K Academy Basketball Fantasy camp in Durham, N.C.

In the nearly two weeks since its Canadian tour ended on Aug. 20, Duke’s basketball players has been taking a break from team activities.

That respite ends Monday when the Blue Devils begin four hours per week of NCAA-allowed team work with the coaches.

And that’s when freshman guard Tre Jones should see his involvement increase.

Jones didn’t play in Duke’s three exhibition games against Canadian teams earlier this month as he’s recovering from a hip injury. But the 6-2 point guard has resumed playing pick-up games with teammates over the past week, a sign that he should be ready for next week’s workouts.

“It’s been good to see him go 100 percent,” Duke assistant coach Nate James told The News & Observer.

Duke was three players short when it demolished Ryerson, the University of Toronto and McGill during games Aug. 15, 17 and 19 in Canada.

In addition to Jones being sidelined, freshman small forward Cameron Reddish is out with a groin injury that remains troublesome. He’s not progressed as far as Jones in his recovery, so his availability for working out starting Monday is doubtful. But hope remains strong that the 6-7 Reddish will be available when Duke starts practice on Sept. 25.

“I know he’s frustrated and he wants to be out there with this team,” James said, “but he also understands that he has to take care of this injury. It’s important to rehab the proper way. Once he starts up we don’t want any setbacks during the year.”

Sophomore guard Alex O’Connell took an elbow to the face three minutes into Duke’s first exhibition game and suffered a broken eye socket. He had surgery on Aug. 23. He should be ready for the start of practice in late September.

The absence of Jones, Reddish and O’Connell allowed reserves to have more playing time.

Junior Jack White certainly took advantage. The 6-7 small forward averaged 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds while drawing two starting assignments. He committed just four turnovers in 85 minutes of play, earning the trust of the coaching staff along the way.

Every year Duke is challenged to blend future NBA players with veterans who are role players. James said White showed how to successfully do that.

“You don’t have to try to do a lot,” James said. “When you have talented players that create, all you need to do is focus on a few things -- defending, rebounding and being prepared to shoot.”

The four hours a week of work on the court begins Monday. It will include skill development and working on the motion offense that requires plenty of movement. So players need to be conditioned to execute it.

“In order to play that way, you have to train,” James said.

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