Duke Basketball: Wendell Carter Jr. joins elite company with career night

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Although it came in a loss, Chicago Bulls forward and former Duke basketball player Wendell Carter Jr. had the best stat line of his rookie season on Friday night.

Only two teenagers have ever scored more than 25 points in a Chicago Bulls jersey. And both are products of the Duke basketball program: Luol Deng and, as of Friday night, Wendell Carter Jr.

Also, as a result of Carter Jr.’s career performance during his team’s 107-88 road loss to the Detroit Pistons, he became just the sixth player in the history of the NBA to have a game with at least 28 points and three blocks before turning 20 years old. The others that accomplished that feat are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins.

In addition to his three blocks and career-high 28 points — shooting 11-for-18 from the field and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe — the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft had seven rebounds and an assist in just 32 minutes on the court.

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His best minutes came in the third quarter — in which he scored 17 of his team’s 25 points — helping to pull Chicago within five points at one point after trailing by 19 at the half.

Before the game against the Pistons, who boast one of the top frontcourts in the league with Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, Carter Jr.’s numbers had taken a hit as of late due to his abundance of fouls — he had at least five fouls in each of his previous five games and fouled out of two of them.

The 6-foot-10, 255-pound Georgia native has started all 23 games thus far for a Bulls squad that sits 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 5-18 record. He is averaging 11.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 0.6 steals.

The only other Chicago player to score in double figures against Detroit also happens to be a former Blue Devil. Jabari Parker, a five-year NBA veteran who is playing his first season for the Bulls, scored 12 points — on just 6-for-16 shooting — and is now averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds for the season (15.4 points and 5.7 rebounds for his career).

Up next for the young, Dukie-laden Bulls is another game on the road tonight at 8 p.m. against the Houston Rockets.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham all season for recaps of highlight performances by former Blue Devils in the NBA.