Duke basketball freshmen who would have benefitted from second year

Duke basketball (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Gary Trent, Jr. #2 of the Duke basketball team warms up prior to their game against the St. John’s Red Storm  (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Pick Analysis. 434. Gary Trent Jr.. 1. player. Scouting Report. 2017-18. PPG: 14.5, RPG: 4.2, AST: 1.4, FG: 41.5%

This one is pretty simple: Duke wins the National Championship in 2018-19 if the Blue Devils have a sophomore Gary Trent Jr.

Forget about the past scenario if Trevon Duval was to return for his second season and only focus on this hypothetical:

A five-man lineup of Tre Jones, Gary Trent Jr., Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett, and Zion Williamson.

I’m sorry, but no team in the country is beating that squad, not to mention the great role players coming off the bench like Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, etc.

Gary Trent Jr. was a great player at Duke, but much like Frank Jackson, you didn’t see much on film that made you think he was an NBA-ready player leaving Durham.

ALSO READ: Ranking all 40 Duke teams under Coach K

Trent Jr. certainly had the shooting ability to thrive at the next level after one season as a Blue Devil, but the rest of his game still needed to develop. And fans saw that after he only played 15 games with the Portland Trail Blazers in his rookie season, spending most of his time in the G-League.

Selected in the second round by the Sacramento Kings, Trent Jr. was sent to Portland in a draft-night trade and has truly burst onto the scene in his second season, primarily due to the injuries the Trail Blazers have sustained this season.

If Gary Trent Jr. decided to run it back with a sophomore season in Durham, the son of the ‘Shaq of the MAC’ would have been a guaranteed first-round pick, most likely Top-15. Plus, not only would he have filled a much-needed role on that Duke team, but he also would be making more money in the NBA and would’ve had a more immediate impact in the league.