Duke basketball graduate transfer may hold the key to team success

Duke basketball grad transfer Patrick Tape (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Duke basketball grad transfer Patrick Tape (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

While there are six scholarship recruits heading to Durham this fall, the one Duke basketball newcomer likely to make the biggest impact is a 6-foot-10 transfer from the Ivy League.

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing in a fantastic recruiting class for the upcoming season. The No. 2 class, per 247Sports, includes six high school seniors ranked in the top 50 in the country. It is not very difficult to argue the phenomenal level of talent heading to Durham this fall. However, it may not be one of the six newcomers who makes the biggest impact.

Three of the six in the 2020 recruiting class were scheduled to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game in Houston on April 1. Point guard Jeremy Roach (Paul VI Catholic) from Leesburg, Va., and center Mark Williams (IMG Academy) from Norfolk, Va., earned spots on the East squad while combo guard DJ Steward (Whitney Young) from Chicago, Ill., secured a place on the West team.

The other three newcomers heading to Durham this fall are forwards Jalen Johnson (Nicolet) from Milwaukee, Wis., Jaemyn Brakefield (Huntington Prep) from Huntington, W.Va., and Henry Coleman (Trinity Episcopal School) from Richmond, Va.

At any time on Coach K Court this fall, there could be as many as five McDonald’s All-Americans playing together. Sophomore forward Matthew Hurt and guard Wendell Moore both participated in the high school basketball classic. Add combo guard, and likely senior captain, Jordan Goldwire to that mix of young talent and you have what many consider the national favorite to hang a banner next spring.

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However, it is graduate transfer Patrick Tape who could be the linchpin to success in Durham. The Charlotte, N.C., native has outstanding size at 6-foot-10, 230 pounds and moves extremely well on the court. Tape logged 20 or more minutes in 19 of his 27 games during his 2018-19 junior year at Columbia. He tallied over 30 minutes four times and added a career-best 42 minutes against Harvard in February of 2019.

It seems obvious that Tape will be able to give Coach K good minutes in the frontcourt either as a starter or in a reserve role. And with just one other scholarship player taller than 6-foot-9, he will need those minutes to be valuable.

Given his size, Tape proved to be a force around the rim during his final season in New York. He averaged just under six rebounds per game during his 2018-19 campaign. His 159 total rebounds were good for 10th in the Ivy League, including 51 rebounds on the offensive glass, which were good for sixth in the conference. In 11 games during his junior year, Tape snagged seven or more total rebounds.

Since the Blue Devils, who finished second in the conference in total rebounds last season, are losing their top three glass cleaners, it will be vitally important that Tape step in and grab those boards on the offensive and defensive ends.

One final area in which the Ivy transfer will likely contribute is distribution. The 2019-20 Duke basketball team ranked second in the ACC in dimes; however, with the departures of frontcourt players Vernon Carey Jr. and Cassius Stanley to the NBA and Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, and Justin Robinson to graduation, Duke loses a combined 106 assists.

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Tape has improved his distribution since his freshman season, dishing out 1.5 assists per game in 2018-19. If the big man can find open shooters, of which there should be plenty around the perimeter next season, that assist number may go even higher.

Coach K should have little trouble finding talent in Duke basketball practices this fall. He has high school All-Americans, a nationally ranked recruiting class, and four veterans who have combined for more than 50 starts in Durham. However, it very well could be a 6-foot-10, 230-pound transfer from the Big Apple who leads the Blue Devils to the Final Four in Indianapolis next season.

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