Each Duke basketball player’s chance of returning next season

Duke basketball (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball wing Wendell Moore (Scott Utterback-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball players with a 50 percent chance of leaving

  • G- Mike Buckmire (Sr)
  • G/F- Joey Baker (Jr)
  • G/F- Wendell Moore Jr. (So)
  • F- Jaemyn Brakefield (Fr)

This is where the waters get a bit murkier. The fellas I’m about to mention here are, in my mind, on the fence as far as their futures with Duke.

I thought last year that junior wing Joey Baker may hit the transfer button. Guess I meant to say Alex O’Connell, but hey, almost had it!

Despite being wrong once, I still think Baker may seek his fortune elsewhere and take his game to another school. He came to Duke as a spot-up shooter, but those days are all but gone as he is shooting 20.0 percent from beyond the arc and has only knocked down three attempts all season.

Where Baker is making his bones this year is hustle plays on defense. He always seems to be first on the floor, and his emotions tend to permeate to the whole team, often generating runs.

Baker will have a place on the team next year if he decides to come back, so don’t be surprised either way.

Wendell Moore Jr. continues to split things right down the middle with his play this season.

The sophomore wing has the NBA measurables at 6-foot-5 with super long arms and a strong 220-pound frame. He’s shown he has the talent, albeit in spurts, to be a major contributor at any level with his solid defense and smooth shooting stroke. It took Moore a little while to get going this year, but his confidence seems to be returning to him and none too soon.

Whether it’s this year or next, Moore will be a big part of whatever the Blue Devils are doing, but the dead horse must take his lumps. He may not be willing to share the wing with five-star recruit AJ Griffin next season, and who could blame him?

Moore could go the transfer route, but if he were to leave, then I’d say it’d be through the draft with his offense and decision-making improving. This writer is officially guessing that he returns for his junior season and grants himself a captain spot in the process.

Jaemyn Brakefield is the dark horse for an early exit that no one seems to be considering. Hear me out, though, as he’s surprised everyone by cracking the starting lineup a few times.

Brakefield’s 14.7 minutes per game have surprised almost everyone but himself and yours truly (I watched the high school tape of the young man and liked what I saw). He has shown he can knock down 3-pointers and has the toughness to bang around on the inside.

By all conventional thought processes, Brakefield should be coming back to Durham next season, and that’s certainly likely, but just as likely is that he heads off to the NBA.

I have this nagging feeling that his fear of being recruited over, added with the fact that he’s already 20, will lead to him testing the draft waters earlier than we all think. I ultimately think he transfers as the forward stable is full of ponies next year, and somebody would love Brakefield’s services.

Mike Buckmire is the only guy on the team who I think the extra year of eligibility will apply to in 2022. Let me explain why to you fine folks…

As a former Duke basketball walk-on, a hoops career is probably not in the senior’s future, so the urge to go pro surely isn’t a deciding factor with Buckmire. There’s also no pressure with having minutes cut as he has so far played a total of only 18 seconds this season.

So Buckmire may just want to wear the Blue one more year and be the locker room leader he is during a potential banner year.

Onto the round of Blue Devils likely to come back…