Duke basketball: Projecting Vernon Carey Jr.’s NBA potential

Duke basketball center Vernon Carey Jr. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Duke basketball center Vernon Carey Jr. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball center Vernon Carey Jr. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Will the skills of Duke basketball’s Vernon Carey Jr. translate to the NBA?

Vernon Carey Jr. had a monster freshman season for the 2019-20 Duke basketball team. His dominance felt like it flew a bit under the radar. Carey wasn’t in talks for National Player of the Year awards, nor did he have NBA scouts and media members drooling over his potential.

In the most recent mock draft from NBADraft.net, Carey is a projected late first-round pick. In CBSports.com’s latest draft projections, the former Duke basketball big man isn’t even listed as a potential first-round pick.

The 2020 NBA Draft is going to be a complete mystery. This year’s draft doesn’t seem to have any “can’t miss” players. Guys like Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Zion Williamson were all consensus No. 1 picks and guys everyone knew would become stars. This year’s draft is filled with talented players who have loads of potential but may not be able to come in and help a team win right away.

I cannot seem to understand why Vernon Carey Jr. is not as high on draft boards as he should be. Carey was a top-five player coming out of high school and had an extremely productive freshman season. He was a huge reason why the Blue Devils were able to win 25 games.

ALSO READ: Ranking all 40 Duke teams under Coach K

If he hadn’t played the way he did, Duke would not have been one of the leading teams in the ACC. Carey shouldered a huge load both offensively and defensively for Duke last season. If he didn’t play well, then Duke likely did not win. The center was the focal point of the offense and on the scouting report for opposing teams. Everything the Blue Devils did last year was through Vernon Carey Jr.

The big man became a walking double-double, totaling 15 altogether, including a stretch in November and December where he put up double-doubles in seven consecutive games. During that stretch, Carey put up 20 points and 14 rebounds against Georgia State, 31 points and 12 rebounds against California, 20 points and 10 rebounds against Georgetown, and 26 points and 11 rebounds on the road against Michigan State.

Now, before breaking down all his strengths and weaknesses then projecting his production as a pro, let’s take a deeper dive into Vernon Carey Jr.’s dominance last season…