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Duke’s rebuilt roster: How the Blue Devils stack up for 2019-20

Duke’s basketball roster isn’t quite set for next season, withJavin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden still in the NBA draft process.

Those two players aside, though, the Blue Devils have rebuilt on the fly, as they have grown accustomed to doing every spring.

Last season’s freshman stars Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish left for the NBA, as expected, after leading Duke to a 32-6 record, an ACC championship and an unsatisfying NCAA tournament run a win short of the Final Four.

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Duke’s Tre Jones (3) shoots during the first half of Duke’s game against Michigan State in their NCAA Elite 8 game in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 31, 2019. Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

Point guard Tre Jones decided to stay at Duke for his upcoming sophomore season, giving the Blue Devils an experienced floor leader to build their new roster around.

DeLaurier and Bolden, veteran forwards who split time in the starting lineup last season, could join them. Or one or both of them could come back. They have until May 29 to decide.

The now-typical top-rated recruiting class gives Duke enough incoming talent that its usual goals of winning the ACC, reaching the Final Four and winning a national championship remain realistic.

But plenty of questions need to be answered between now and the season-opening Champions Classic game with Kansas at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Nov. 5.

Here’s a look at Duke’s scholarship players by class at this point:

Seniors

Jack White, 6-7, forward

Justin Robinson, 6-10, forward

x-Javin DeLaurier, 6-10, forward

x-Marques Bolden, 6-11, center

Juniors

Jordan Goldwire, 6-2, guard

Alex O’Connell, 6-5, guard

Sophomores

Tre Jones, 6-2, point guard

Joey Baker, 6-7, guard

Freshmen

Matthew Hurt, 6-9, forward

Wendell Moore, 6-5, guard

Vernon Carey, 6-11, center

Cassius Stanley, 6-5, shooting guard

x-has until May 29 to withdraw from NBA draft process

Projected starters...and why

Everything starts with Jones at point guard. His presence gives Duke a chance to be a top-10 team in KenPom’s offensive and defensive efficiency ratings for a second consecutive season.

Duke has options to surround him in the backcourt. Sophomore Joey Baker and freshmen Wendell Moore and Cassius Stanley are all capable of scoring from behind the 3-point line and driving to the basket. Junior Alex O’Connell is a proven shooter but his defense isn’t always sound.

Freshman Matthew Hurt is a classic Duke stretch-4 forward, a guy who can hit 3-pointers but also can do damage in the paint off passes or offensive rebounds. He figures to be one of Duke’s top scorers.

Odds are that either Bolden or DeLaurier will return but not both. For projection purposes, let’s say DeLaurier is back for his senior year while Bolden turns professional.

DeLaurier and Carey will be Duke’s primary post players in this scenario. Carey figures to get the bulk of the minutes. DeLaurier will be a factor similar to last season when he provided depth with solid rebounding, defense and the occasional basket.

So, with five months until the first exhibition games, the starting five projects to be Jones, Baker, Moore, Hurt, Carey.

Duke’s bench figures to be a strength

Yes, yes, coach Mike Krzyzewski always whittles his rotation down to his trusted seven or eight players by the time the NCAA tournament arrives. But it won’t be an easy task on this team.

Senior Jack White was a strong player early last season before his 3-point shooting percentage cratered. His defense and rebounding were always solid and if he finds his stroke again, he’ll be hard to keep out of the rotation.

Stanley figures to get his share of starting assignments. But even coming off the bench he’ll provide scoring punch.

Last season, Krzyzewski grew to love defensive sets that included Goldwire and Jones hounding opposing ball-handlers into turnovers. That epic comeback win at Louisville, fueled by that duo’s defense, won’t be forgotten. That means Goldwire will have a role.

Will Duke be a strong defensively?

Jones’ presence means there’s a good chance. But Zion Williamson and Bolden were strong rim projectors on the back end. Without them, Carey will have to prove just as capable. He’s got the build but no one will know if he’s capable of grasping the mental part of defense -- the communication -- until he does it.

Moore, Baker and Stanley should be able to use their athleticism to get into the passing lanes for steals just as Cam Reddish did last season. Jones’ ability to pester opponents into questionable passing decisions gives those three players opportunities for live-ball steals.

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.
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