A clash between key perimeter pieces to the UNC and Duke basketball 2020 classes revealed the sensational scoring prowess of a soon-to-be Blue Devil.
True, help is on the way for UNC head coach Roy Williams. Also true, the next Duke basketball reload not only ranks a wee bit higher right now than that of the rival eight miles down Tobacco Road — No. 2 and No. 3 on the 247Sports 2020 Class Rankings — but the latest haul by Mike Krzyzewski and his fellow recruiting masterminds also contains one weapon in particular with underrated firepower.
True, at No. 26 on the 247Sports 2020 Composite, Whitney Young (Ill.) combo guard and Duke signee D.J. Steward — the self-titled “Swipa Snipa” — sits five spots below Christian Brothers (Mo.) showman and future UNC point guard Caleb Love. Also true, at the Highland Shootout in Illinois on Saturday night, the lower-ranked guy schooled the other five-star on several possessions (both are roughly 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds).
Not only did Steward drop 40 points — 14-for-20 shooting, including 5-for-11 from downtown, and a 7-for-7 clip from the charity stripe, per 247Sports — to more than double up Love’s 19, but the 18-year-old from the Duke recruiting hotbed of Chicago took over down the stretch and hit the game-winning layup in the closing seconds to secure his squad’s 66-64 victory.
“Epic…Whitney Young was starved for offense…but it didn’t matter because the athletic guard was everywhere and made every crucial play that needed to be made,” Rivals’ in-attendance Eric Bossi wrote of Steward, whose versatile collection of perimeter skills and history of clutch buckets bring to mind a cross between former Duke basketball players Austin Rivers and Daniel Ewing.
Bossi then outlined Steward’s relentless attack:
“He bombed early threes, he forced the issue in transition, and he consistently got to the rim for contested finishes.”
Finally, Bossi put Steward’s show into perspective:
"“It was a special performance and as clutch an outing as there has been all winter.”"
In other words, good thing #TheBrotherhood and Steward swiped right on one another (he chose Duke over fellow suitor UNC back in September and then signed his national letter of intent in November).
With no unanswered 2020 Duke basketball offers still on the table, the five others signed up to be freshmen alongside Steward in Durham next season are Paul VI Catholic (Va.) five-star point guard Jeremy Roach, former Nicolet (Wis.) five-star small forward Jalen Johnson, Trinity Episcopal (Va.) four-star power forward Henry Coleman, Huntington Prep (W.Va.) four-star power forward Jaemyn Brakefield, and IMG Academy (Fla.) four-star center Mark Williams.
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