Grading each Duke basketball player’s performance in season opener

Duke basketball (Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Grading the play of Duke basketball freshman DJ Steward

The stat line of DJ Steward vs. Coppin State: In 33 minutes on the court, the freshman combo guard finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block, one turnover, and one foul while shooting 10-for-18 from the field, including a 4-for-9 mark from beyond the arc.

The evaluation of DJ Steward vs. Coppin State: As Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski hinted at after the too-close-for-comfort win over Coppin State, the Blue Devils could be 0-1 right now if not for the clutch baskets and mistake-free presence of rookie DJ Steward:

“DJ really came through. We really put ourselves in a position, and they [Coppin State] put us in that position too, where there was an immense amount of game pressure down to six points. During that time period, some guys really stepped forward. DJ hit some big buckets…We have a lot of confidence in him.”

ALSO READ: Three biggest takeaways from Duke’s first victory

Steward didn’t draw as many headlines as Jalen Johnson either during or after the game on Saturday. But he also didn’t commit nearly as many turnovers. Plus, he was the game’s leading scorer, showcasing his ability to score at all three levels. He’s a star in the making, as he proved with a sweet up-and-under move plus his deep arsenal of floaters and soft shots off the glass.

Put simply, don’t be surprised if Steward, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound Chicago product, now becomes a full-time starter and ultimately leads the Blue Devils in scoring across what could be his one-and-done season.

The final grade for DJ Steward vs. Coppin State: 96 (A)

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