Duke basketball: The next great starting five for Coach K

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

STARTING SMALL FORWARD: Jalen Johnson, Matthew Hurt, or Joey Baker?

The small forward (or shooting forward) position may perhaps be the most contentious in fall practice. Junior Joey Baker, sophomore Matthew Hurt, and freshman Jalen Johnson all have the pedigree to start.

Baker is a 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward who has shot 39.7 percent from distance for his career in Durham. In 28 games as a sophomore, Baker averaged 5.0 points and 0.9 rebounds in just over 12 minutes per contest.

Rumors swirled that Hurt flirted with a transfer for several weeks following the 2019-20 season; however, he ultimately decided to return to the Duke basketball program for his second year. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound rising sophomore started 22 of 31 games last season and averaged 9.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor.

ALSO READ: Three former Blue Devils for Matthew Hurt to study this offseason

Johnson, the top-ranked of the six recruits heading to Durham, is a polished 6-foot-8, 215-pound scorer and creator. In 33 games played across his junior and senior years for Nicolet High School, Johnson averaged a double-double at 21.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest. The No. 1 prospect out of the state of Wisconsin also added 5.8 assists per game over the last two seasons.

STARTER: Although Baker’s shooting percentage is promising and Hurt has the most in-game experience, Johnson’s ability to create his shot on the perimeter or take a defender off the dribble to the rim give him a clear advantage at the shooting forward position.

The freshman will be joined in the frontcourt by one of two newcomers at power forward…