Three Duke basketball players who will be pleasant surprises

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Duke basketball

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Duke basketball squad is sure to enjoy this trio of underrated weapons.

Last week, Duke basketball assistant Nate James reeled off the most probable starting lineup for the Blue Devils, at least to begin the season. Those five are freshman point guard Jeremy Roach, senior combo guard Jordan Goldwire, sophomore small forward Wendell Moore, freshman combo forward Jalen Johnson, and sophomore stretch-four Matthew Hurt.

But there are six other potential full-time contributors on the 2020-21 Duke roster. Plus, there’s no doubt all of them hold realistic hopes of playing integral roles on the court. That said, judging from all 40 seasons to date with hard-to-please Mike Krzyzewski at the helm in Durham, it’s highly unlikely the five-time national champ will regularly employ an 11-man rotation.

ALSO READ: Ranking all 40 Duke teams under Coach K

This means, barring mass injuries to others, the bench could be a relatively permanent home for at least two of these six Blue Devils: freshman combo guard DJ Steward, junior wing Joey Baker, freshman combo forward Jaemyn Brakefield, freshman power forward Henry Coleman, senior power forward Patrick Tapé, and freshman center Mark Williams.

Yes, it’s probable that no more than nine guys will consistently see meaningful minutes in second-half action of tight games. And of the above half-dozen names, only Steward looks to be a certain central component to the Blue Devils. Among the other five, though, the following three stand out as safe-bet pleasant surprises whose individual gifts should prove too sweet to pass up…

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