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) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball forward Wendell Moore (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Four lesser contenders for national awards

Just to be clear, those on this final slide are not necessarily any less talented or important than those on previous slides. On the same token, they are not necessarily any more talented or important than those who didn’t show up here at all. Again, this article only takes into account each Duke basketball family member’s chance to reel in a major national award next season and doesn’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings. With that out of the way, here are the four honorable-mention contenders:

Jeremy Roach for Freshman of the Year

While it’s true Paul VI Catholic (Va.) senior point guard Jeremy Roach should start from the moment he puts on his Duke basketball shoes, those shoes come with immeasurable pressure, particularly when following a beloved Duke basketball figure like Tre Jones. And even if the 6-foot-2, 180-pound five-star responds to the pressure in admirable fashion, he isn’t likely to put up the level of eye-popping freshman stats that the NABC likes to see.

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Matthew Hurt for Player of the Year

Since Matthew Hurt won’t be a freshman anymore and is miles from being an award-winning defender, his only hope for a supreme national honor is to somehow seize the top overall prize. Based on the 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward’s inconsistencies and glaring lack of strength this past season, seemingly his only possible path to becoming the best college basketball player next season is via nonstop sharpshooting magic shows (mixing in some magical offseason results from the weight room also wouldn’t hurt).

Wendell Moore for Defensive Player of the Year

As a freshman, Wendell Moore certainly gave Duke fans one sweet everlasting memory by silencing the Dean E. Smith Center in epic fashion. Overall, though, the North Carolinian showed there’s plenty of work ahead in the turnover and shooting departments before he becomes one of the country’s most heralded talents — i.e., any Player of the Year talk right now would be quite a reach. However, his literal reach, overall athleticism, and proven instincts on defense suggest Defensive Player of the Year is a more reasonable aspiration for the time being.

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Mark Williams for Defensive Player of the Year

IMG Academy (Fla.) four-star senior Mark Williams is a 7-foot-1, 225-pound center with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and a knack for blocking shots at the high school level. The Virginia native, who is the younger brother of Duke women’s basketball legend Elizabeth Williams, will be in the running for a starting gig. Even so, his skeptics would bring up his limitations: post moves, strength, and lateral movement. All in all, it’s doubtful he’ll sow enough minutes as a freshman to reap an honor as prestigious as NABC Defensive Player of the Year. Again, though, there’s no harm in trying.

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