- BEST FEATURES: shooting, athleticism, length, aggression, takeover-mentality, crossover move, versatility
- QUESTION MARKS: inexperience, defense
Whitney Young (Ill.) five-star combo guard D.J. Steward should equate to everything Mike Krzyzewski seems to like in an off-guard starter: an accurate shooting stroke, a decisive trigger, a reliable set of handles, and a McDonald’s All-American. Actually, the jury on that “everything” part may remain out due to one lingering concern that 247Sports national basketball analyst Brian Snow once brought up:
“Defensively, [Steward] will never be great, but he is athletic enough and just big enough to defend either guard spot.”
Offensively, though, Steward began attracting a wealth of blueblood suitors last summer on the Nike EYBL circuit — and began boosting his composite ranking from No. 108 at the time to its current No. 24 spot — with one prolific outing after another against a slew of heralded guards.
Steward, who picked up a Duke basketball offer at the end of that week in July and then pledged allegiance to #TheBrotherhood two months later, also showcased his bucket-dropping superpowers during his senior season that followed. And he even did so against a rival he’ll face next season in North Carolina’s five-star signee at point guard, Caleb Love. Here’s how Ball Durham summed up that January performance:
“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 — 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.”
ALSO READ: Predicting Duke’s top scorer next season
Yup, starting Day One in Durham, Steward’s scoring prowess should make it all but impossible for Coach K to put him anywhere but on the floor at the start of games.
Steward’s primary backup: JOEY BAKER
Now, let’s talk about the other starter out on the wing…