Duke basketball coach crowns ‘most consistent big man’ for Blue Devils

Duke basketball grad transfer Patrick Tapé may be a shock to the naysayers.

Speaking to media this week, third-year Duke basketball assistant Chris Carrawell gave reasons to think Patrick Tapé is in line for more minutes than some folks are predicting.

Carrawell, who captured the 1999-00 ACC Player of the Year crown as a senior in Durham, began by praising the persistently positive personality of Tapé:

“Patrick has been great. This guy has a smile on his face every time you see him.”

The smiling face now accompanies a 6-foot-9, 235-pound sturdy frame plus a toolbox seemingly deep enough for Tapé to hold his own against ACC foes. Before sitting out the 2019-20 season at Columbia with a foot injury and then deciding in the spring to transfer to Duke, he averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in only 22.7 minutes per game as a junior.

Tapé proved to be an efficient cleanup man across his three active seasons with the Lions, shooting 61.3 percent from the field, which now stands as the No. 1 career mark in school history.

Five years ago, though, Tapé was a largely undiscovered high school prospect growing up in Charlotte. Nevertheless, the 22-year-old arrived at Duke in August as the program’s oldest current player and with three years of D-I experience under his belt, albeit against primarily Ivy League competition.

As Carrawell hinted, the experience appears to be paying off for Tapé in practice battles with his fellow Blue Devils down low, including maybe his top competitor for minutes at the five-spot in freshman 7-footer Mark Williams.

ALSO READ: Three Blue Devils will be pleasant surprises this season

However, Carrawell also acknowledged the adjustment period for Tapé as a Duke newcomer himself:

“It’s a different level, and he had to get adjusted. When you come in, the competition is just different. He’s had to practice against really good players every day…Probably for the last couple of weeks, he’s been our most consistent big guy. Every day, you know what you’re going to get out of Patrick.”

So what all does the Duke basketball team stand to get out of Patrick Tapé?

While Tapé does come equipped with a respectable repertoire of post moves, Carrawell made clear the most noticeable strengths of the graduate student-athlete:

“He’s our best big in terms of ball-screen coverage on the defensive end, and this guy can rebound with the best of them. His hustle and his effort have been elite…And he’s an underrated passer. I don’t know if he had that, but I think that’s coming from playing in the Ivy League. That’s an Ivy League thing right there.”

Revisiting his point about the demeanor of Tapé, Carrawell summarized perhaps the overriding reason for Duke basketball fans to be optimistic:

“He’s just easy to play with…great attitude.”

The first chance to see Tapé as a Blue Devil is 8 p.m. Wednesday (ACCN) when Duke hosts Gardner-Webb.

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball news and views.