Duke Basketball Player Review: Vernon Carey Jr.’s domination unmatched

Duke basketball center Vernon Carey Jr. (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images)
Duke basketball center Vernon Carey Jr. (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball program built yet another dominant force in the paint with freshman Vernon Carey Jr. as the Blue Devil was the top freshman in the nation.

Entering Duke, there were oddly many questions surrounding the game of Vernon Carey Jr.

Ranked as the No. 6 recruit in the 247 Sports Composite Rankings, Carey Jr. appeared like a traditional center, but the question remained if he could play on the perimeter, like some other elite big men that came before him, Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., and Zion Williamson.

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Carey Jr. made his presence known very loudly in the first game of the season against Kansas, dominating one of the best veteran big men in the country, Udoka Azubuike.

The 6-foot-10 forward was off and running from there, scoring at least 10 points in every single game except for two, in which he scored nine and eight points in 20 and 21 minutes, respectively, when Duke won both games by over 30 points.

A native of Southwest Ranches, Florida, Carey Jr. averaged 17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game en route to being named as the ACC and National Freshman of the Year as well as being selected to numerous All-American teams.

The big man also shot 57.7 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from 3-point range, and 67.0 percent from the free throw line.

Carey Jr. played in all 31 games for the Blue Devils in their shortened season, starting 30, with the lone exception being the final game of the regular season, when Mike Krzyzewski started his senior class.

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Arguably the best game Vernon Carey Jr. played this season was in Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Empire Classic against California, in which the Blue Devil center went for 31 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks in just 20 minutes.

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While no official announcement has been made, the expectation is that Vernon Carey Jr. will enter the 2020 NBA Draft, although he is mostly projected to go near the end of the first round despite his fantastic freshman season.