The projected Duke basketball starting five for next season

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

PF. player. 434. 6-9, 215. Freshman. Jalen Johnson. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis

  • BEST FEATURES: passing, alpha-mentality, versatility, size, smooth moves, court-awareness, early commitment to Duke
  • QUESTION MARKS: 3-point shooting, inexperience

Nicolet (Wis.) five-star forward Jalen Johnson, who on July 4 became the second Duke basketball commit in the class, is the program’s highest-ranked recruit on the 247Sports 2020 Composite, where he currently sits No. 11 overall. And he’ll arrive in Durham with comparisons to Duke basketball legends Grant Hill and Shane Battier in tow because of his similar build in addition to his respect-commanding playing style.

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Here’s how Ball Durham recently summarized Johnson’s powerful presence and overall game — including the weaknesses — which he only had the chance to show off in eight games as a senior due to his mysterious no-show for IMG Academy prior to his transfer back to Nicolet:

“Across the eight games that Johnson did ultimately play for Nicolet, he averaged an impressive 25.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.9 steals, and 0.6 blocks while shooting 60.1 percent from the field. On the flipside, like so many elite Duke basketball freshmen in recent years, the Milwaukee native may want to refine the stroke he displayed this year both from beyond the arc (4-for-24, 16.7 percent) and from the charity stripe (28-for-52, 53.8 percent)…

“Percentages aside, Johnson, who seems on track to stay in college only one season, possesses the necessary versatile toolbox to lead from Day One as a Blue Devil.”

All in all, he is likely to be the top overall talent on the 2020-21 Duke basketball roster. And top talents, especially those who are fiercely competitive and boast an unteachable swagger, tend to start every game for whatever team they play for and at whatever position they are needed. Johnson, who has “small forward” next to his name on some sites, won’t be an exception.

Johnson’s primary backup: MATTHEW HURT

Now, let’s fill in the final piece — a more surprising one — to this starting-five puzzle…