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

Duke basketball (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
4 of 6
Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

player. 434. Forward. Pick Analysis. Freshman. Jalen Johnson. 2. Scouting Report

Contender for Freshman of the Year

Across the past year, Nicolet (Wis.) five-star Jalen Johnson fell from No. 3 to No. 11 on the 247Sports 2020 Composite. This should have come as no shock considering he missed roughly three-quarters of his senior season due to a mysterious hiatus and transfer back to his junior-year stomping grounds from IMG Academy (Fla.), where he never ended up lacing ’em up at all.

ALSO READ: Prized Duke signee ‘locked in’ on next season

Ranking slide and other matters aside, Johnson appears to have the necessary feel for the game and inherent in-sneakers grace to conduct a Duke basketball masterpiece.

True, it’s so early that the freshmen are still no less than a couple of months away from even arriving on campus (who knows when anything will happen now in light of the COVID-19 pandemic). Nevertheless, one could argue the 6-foot-9, 215-pound versatile forward looks to be in line for the team’s most-minutes award.

On the other hand, even if Johnson plays a ton, anchors a ton of victories, and tallies a ton of various non-scoring stats, his shooting struggles — of both the 3-point and foul-line variety — could knock him out of contention for NABC Freshman of the Year recognition.

There’s a certain 73-year-old, though, who just might be able to help Johnson work out the kinks in his game. And that man just might be ready for a national honor himself…