The promising 2020-2021 Duke basketball team: An early look

Duke basketball (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball players Joey Baker and Jordan Goldwire celebrate with Wendell Moore after his game-winner at North Carolina (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

What do we know right now?

We know that the NCAA allows 13 scholarships for Division I basketball athletes per team, per year. For the 2019-2020 Duke basketball team, head coach Mike Krzyzewski put the following athletes under scholarship for the year:

That is only twelve. However, Buckmire, who is majoring in Biology and is one of the smartest individuals on the team, was just placed on scholarship for this past season. Logically, if Coach K needs an additional scholarship, one would think he’d pull back that one.

Who’s graduating?

  • Justin Robinson
  • Javin DeLaurier
  • Jack White

So if we are strictly talking about available scholarships, that means Duke has eight scholarship players for next season if we remove Robinson, DeLaurier, White, and Buckmire, before factoring in any early departures or the incoming recruiting class.

Duke has six incoming recruits thus far, not including alleged interest in Harvard graduate transfer Seth Towns, Yale graduate transfer Jordan Bruner, and Colombia graduate transfer Patrick Tape. So if you take a conservative approach and expect the staff to walk into next season with just the six new players from the 2020 class, that means Duke needs at the very minimum for one player from this year’s team to make an early departure for the NBA to make the scholarships work.

Who’s leaving early and who’s possibly staying?

Prior to this week, really everybody on the roster except Goldwire could have been realistically placed in the “uncertain” territory for next season. Baker cleared things up a touch when he declared the other day via his Instagram that he will be returning to Durham for Year 3. So right now there are two guaranteed returnees. The remaining are all up in the air for various reasons.

ESPN Draft Express Prospect Rankings:

  • #28 Vernon Carey Jr.
  • #33 Tre Jones
  • #50 Cassius Stanley
  • #65 Wendell Moore
  • #76 Matthew Hurt

ESPN Draft Express Mock Draft:

  • #29 Vernon Carey Jr. (Los Angeles Lakers)
  • #30 Tre Jones (Boston Celtics)
  • #49 Cassius Stanley (Oklahoma City Thunder)

ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony currently only has Carey Jr., Jones, and Stanley getting drafted. Moore’s game translates well to the NBA; however, he was always projected as more of a multi-year player.

Hurt’s placement is quite interesting, considering the skillset that he brings to the table, something that many NBA franchises covet.

Prior to the start of the season, Hurt was a borderline lottery pick; however, his shortcomings on defense and limitations due to his lanky frame caught up to him. Despite the rumblings, it seems rather illogical for him to transfer out of Duke, be forced to sit out a year, and put his NBA aspirations on hold.

Likely, he will either declare or return to Duke and attempt to boost his draft stock once again. The only aspect really working against Hurt declaring right now is the global pandemic, as it has all but eliminated the possibility for underclassmen to individually work out for teams and maybe even partake in the NBA Draft Combine.

Let’s move on to the new Duke basketball faces…