Incoming Duke basketball freshman predicts 2020-21 team’s secret sauce

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Once again, rookies look to play a major part in the Duke basketball program’s quest for a sixth national title, and one such newcomer recently described what should be the squad’s distinguishing feature.

Toward the end of his chat on the Absolute Basketball Experience with Jamie Shaw this week, when asked which superhero he’d like to be for a day, Duke basketball signee Henry Coleman didn’t hesitate with his answer: The Hulk.

That’s appropriate. Coleman, who ranks No. 45 on the 247Sports 2020 Composite out of Trinity Episcopal School in Richmond, Va., has beefed up considerably across the past year to 6-foot-8, 240 pounds. Plus, as the four-star power forward noted to Shaw when recalling his lack of shyness on the first day of kindergarten, he doesn’t mind being the center of attention.

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Granted, Coleman is not likely to be the focal point of the Duke basketball attack next season. But as the 18-year-old fishing enthusiast explained to Shaw, he and his five fellow incoming scholarship Blue Devils — comprising the No. 3 class on the 247Sports 2020 Team Rankings — are sure they’re headed to the right place:

“Since I stepped foot on campus, I really did know I wanted to be there. Interesting thing is, for all of us, all the guys in the class, it’s kind of been the same message and same kind of feel. We all talked about how when we first stepped on campus, we knew this was the place.”

Coleman also remarked that he, five-star point guard Jeremy Roach, five-star combo guard DJ Steward, five-star small forward Jalen Johnson, four-star power forward Jaemyn Brakefield, and five-star center Mark Williams all share much in common in terms of character and aspirations:

“Our No. 1 goal from the start is to win a national championship…We’re a great group and a hungry group…All in all, we are just a good group of guys; that’s what I was telling some people, you know, they only see the basketball part, but this group is just a really good group of guys…Guys have aspirations of doing other stuff than just playing in the NBA.”

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Speaking about his own envisioned role for next season, Coleman didn’t seem to mind the comparison to Justise Winslow, a Blue Devil now budding in The Association who helped — sometimes just by way of sheer hustle and determination — to hang the most recent natty banner in Cameron Indoor Stadium during his one-and-done freshman campaign:

“A guy who brings energy each and every game. I’ve watched a ton of that 2015 team. Justise [Winslow] always brought energy, and he always was impactful, whether that was assisting, rebounding, scoring, or just diving on the floor for a loose ball.”

Like the 2015 champs, the 2020-21 Duke basketball team will have loads of talent but only a sprinkling of veterans. While big man Patrick Tape, a graduate transfer from Columbia, adds to the experience, only four rotation players return from a 25-6 squad that finished No. 11 in the AP Poll: senior guard Jordan Goldwire, junior wing Joey Baker, sophomore small forward Wendell Moore, and sophomore stretch-four Matthew Hurt.

No worries, for Coleman identified to Shaw what the secret sauce should be in Mike Krzyzewski’s 41st year at the helm:

“We know, and everyone in the country knows, that we’re going to be a young team. What they really don’t know is how hungry we are. We’re a group of guys that really want to succeed…We’re hungry. We’re ready to work.”

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