Duke basketball: Blue Devils finally debut as NBA rookies

A trio of Duke basketball products can now say they have played in the NBA.

It took four games for each. And neither played more than four minutes. But as of Wednesday night, the two leading scorers from the 2019-20 Duke basketball team have now officially been on the floor in the NBA during the regular season. Also, one of the two even notched his first points as a pro via a sweet dipsy-doo reverse layup.

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First, former NABC Freshman of the Year and ACC Rookie of the Year Vernon Carey Jr., who went No. 32 overall at the 2020 NBA Draft after one season as a Blue Devil and then signed a four-year contract with the Charlotte Hornets, saw mop-up action in a 118-99 road win against the Dallas Mavericks.

Entering the game with only 3:40 to play, the slimmed-down Carey Jr. did not score, going 0-for-2 from the field, including a missed 3-pointer. However, the 6-foot-10 big man did tally an assist in addition to blocking the 7-foot-4 Boban Marjanovic and then snagging the defensive rebound.

The next game for Charlotte (2-2) will tip at 7 p.m. Friday, at home against the Memphis Grizzlies

Around the same time that Carey Jr. made his first official appearance as a pro, former ACC Player and Defender of the Year Tre Jones, who came off the board in November at No. 41 overall after two seasons as a Blue Devil and then agreed to a three-year deal with the San Antonio Spurs, took the court with 1:02 remaining in a 121-107 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

After blowing past fellow former Duke basketball guard Quinn Cook in the open court, the 6-foot-3 right-hander avoided a blank stat line by using soft touch off the glass with his left hand to notch the game’s final two points (the highlight begins at the 8:30 mark in the video below). On the previous possession, Jones missed a pullup jumper, which was his only other shot attempt.

Jones’ debut coincided with assistant Becky Hammon becoming the first female to ever serve as an NBA head coach, following Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s ejection in the first half.

The next game for San Antonio (2-2) will tip at 8:30 p.m. Friday, again at home against the Lakers (3-2).

Duke basketball’s other NBA rookie

The third-leading scorer for last season’s Duke squad, one-and-done Cassius Stanley, was the last of the three Blue Devils to hear his name on draft night, going No. 54 overall and then inking a two-way contract with the Indiana Pacers.

Yet the high-flying two-guard was the first of the trio to make his official NBA debut, notching two points and one rebound across two minutes at the end of a 125-106 road win against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. Stanley hasn’t come off the bench in the two outings since.

The next game for Indiana (3-1) will tip at 3 p.m. Thursday, at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers (3-1).

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