Duke basketball’s top four candidates for national awards next season

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Incoming Duke basketball freshman D.J. Steward (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Pick Analysis. Freshman. D.J. Steward. Scouting Report. Guard. 3. player. 434

Contender for Freshman of the Year

Easier said than done, but technically, all Whitney Young (Ill.) senior D.J. Steward must do to add NABC Freshman of the Year to his portfolio is continue the same degree of ascension among his peers that he has reached across the past year. At this time last year, the 6-foot-4, 170-pound combo guard ranked No. 110 on the 247Sports 2020 Composite; now, he sits No. 24, after picking up a five-star rating along the way.

ALSO READ: Predicting Duke’s top scorer next season

As Ball Durham recently put it, “Steward is a McDonald’s All-American with the speed, handles, dazzle, determination, and stroke to become a Duke basketball household name right away.”

There’s no doubt all the video evidence points to a 3-point cannon en route to the Duke basketball program. That said, to stay on the court long enough to receive consideration for a national accolade, Steward will need to put to rest the concerns about his limited defense.

Interestingly, as noted here earlier, Jordan Goldwire will be in a position to help the new kid in this regard while at the same time serving as his chief competition for playing time. On that note, any chance Steward has of being the country’s No. 1 fresh face largely depends on how that healthy battle between teammates shakes out.

Speaking of how things shake out, this next freshman could be the fundamental reason Steward and every other first-year collegian don’t wind up NABC Freshman of the Year…