Duke Basketball: Jeremy Roach represents best bet to replace Tre Jones

Duke basketball signee Jeremy Roach (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Duke basketball signee Jeremy Roach (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images) /

An opportunity may present itself for Jeremy Roach to succeed Tre Jones as the Duke basketball starting point guard come the 2020-21 season should he decide to become a Blue Devil.

As much as Duke basketball fans would like to think Tre Jones will announce after next season his intention to stay for his junior season — some may even hold out hope the blueprint of a Blue Devil point guard is a four-year guy — such a scenario seems rooted in dreams more than reality.

Jones, who has already proven to be the best true point guard in Durham since at least Tyus Jones in 2015 and arguably since Jason Williams at the start of this millennium, had a chance to hear his name in the first round of the upcoming NBA Draft had he opted to leave.

Instead, the Minnesota native chose to return as a sophomore, leaving fans optimistic next season will be more than just a rebuilding effort after three of Jones’ fellow freshmen — the team’s three leading scorers last season — chose to begin their professional careers.

But as the certain leader of next season’s squad who has an opportunity to work on his weaknesses this offseason — notably, his outside shot — one would assume, despite several 2020 mock drafts currently pegging him as a second-rounder, Jones will forego his final two years of eligibility, pleasing some NBA franchise looking for a point guard who, like his older brother, is a lock to at least be a worthy backup.

ALSO READ: Tyus Jones set for a nice payday after setting NBA record

Such a scenario would mean in addition to needing help at almost every other position for the 2020-21 season — it’s possible as few as four players from next season’s roster will return — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will need a floor general he can trust to replace Jones.

R.J. Hampton, who officially declared on Tuesday he will reclassify to 2019 but is no longer considering Duke, is out of the equation.

And Boogie Ellis, an incoming Duke freshman who ranks No. 34 on the 247Sports Composite for the 2019 class and certainly has the potential to take over the gig after learning from Jones next season, is more of a scorer than a facilitator; therefore, Ellis seems more likely to serve as a shooting guard for the Blue Devils for however many years he stays in college.

ALSO READ: Tre Jones will be an ideal mentor for Boogie Ellis

Likewise, Cassius Stanley, who ranks No. 31 and is also headed to Durham next season, is more of an off-the-ball guard than a point guard.

So fast-forward to the 2020-21 season and enter Jeremy Roach into the equation — well, ideally.

Despite not playing competitively ever since suffering a torn ACL back in November, the five-star junior from Leesburg, Va., who attends Paul VI Catholic in Fairfax, ranks No. 16 overall, No. 2 among point guards, and No. 1 in his state on the 247Sports Composite for the 2020 class.

Like Jones, Roach is quick, but not lightning quick; also, like Jones, his hops are not exactly jaw-dropping.

Like Jones, though, Roach seems to check all the boxes for what it takes to be a successful point guard for a program with realistic title aspirations every season. He has a floater that, paired with his adequate stroke from beyond the arc, will keep defenses honest. He has a set of strong and nifty handles that defenses will have difficulty disrupting. He has a set of eyeballs that seem to specialize in finding open teammates.

Like Jones, possibly his best attribute is his tenacity when playing defense. With a body slightly more stocky than that of Jones and what appears to be an equal joy to that of Jones in locking down opposing guards, Roach would fit right in as a coaches’ pet at Duke.

First, though, Roach would have to choose Duke for his future stomping grounds.

Earlier this week, Coach K visited the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder, likely in order to remind him that he remains a top priority.

More from Ball Durham

Roach has held an offer from the Blue Devil staff since July 30, 2018, and took an official visit to Duke back in October (he followed up with an unofficial visit in February, when he was in attendance for the first Duke-UNC game). Shortly after his official visit, he named his final four: Duke, Kentucky, Villanova, and UNC.

Possibly working in the Tar Heels’ favor is the fact his high school teammate, 2019 point guard Anthony Harris, recently announced his decision to play in Chapel Hill; however, the fact the longtime friends would likely be competing for minutes under coach Roy Williams could deter Roach from following Harris’ path.

The 247Sports Crystal Ball sees him as a future Wildcat — either of the Kentucky or Villanova variety — but on Tuesday, Rivals recruiting guru Corey Evans wrote the following:

"“Roach may commit before the beginning of his senior year and my best guess would be that it is the Blue Devils…”"

Based on teaming-up discussions he has reportedly had with other five-star 2020 recruits who are also among those with Duke offers, his commitment could serve as a spark for others to follow.

ALSO READ: Blue Devils’ 2020 class could include a package deal

Coach K has yet to land a commitment for what needs to be an expansive collection of 2020 talents; that being said, it’s too early in the process for the lack of a commitment to be a worry, especially when considering the Duke coaching staff has hauled in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class four years straight (also five of the past six).

In addition to Roach, Coach K and Co. have offers on the table to five other prospects from the class.

From highest to lowest on the composite ranking, those targets are five-star small forward Jalen Johnson, who ranks No. 3; five-star small forward Scottie Barnes, who ranks No. 4; five-star shooting guard B.J. Boston, who ranks No. 9; five-star center Walker Kessler, who ranks No. 17; and four-star center Mark Williams, who ranks No. 46.

ALSO READ: Potential prize of 2020 class hosts entire Blue Devil staff

dark. Next. Depth next season may rouse dormant chant

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting updates, analyses, opinions, and predictions.