Duke basketball appreciation post of the week: The Enforcer, Theo John

Duke basketball power forward Theo John (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball power forward Theo John (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball beast of 2021-22: Theo John

After four years at Marquette, Theo John really never saw himself going back to the college game,  but the connections to Duke basketball were there on the Golden Eagle coaching staff. Having played for and been recruited by Steve Wojciechowski and Chris Carrawell, John’s strengths, literally, were well known to the staff in Durham.

“You didn’t really have to sell [Mike Krzyzewski] on Theo, and everything that we thought he would be in terms of leadership — the physical inside presence — he’s done that and more. The guys love him,” Carrawell said before the season started.

Coach K has also credited John with instilling more confidence and toughness in Mark Williams. This has translated in the mild-mannered big man even doing a few stare downs and rim rattles after big blocks or dunks this season.

One must wonder if Coach K had an eye on Theo at the end of February 2021 when Marquette practiced at Cameron Indoor Stadium before beating UNC, 83-70. Yes, that is a dig. Duke basketball would be suspended a few weeks later due to COVID, and three frontcourt players left via the transfer portal in the ensuing months.

Maybe he sensed the need for reinforcements down low and had already admired “…my game and my character,” as John noted of a congratulatory conversation he had with Coach K at that encounter. Whatever the case, it seems all the loose strings between Theo John and Duke basketball finally bound together, and the Blue Devils are better for it.

Duke can always use players who, in their own words,“…love guys like Ben Wallace, Kevin Garnett, guys who dog…hard-nosed dogs. Like I’m gonna do what I got to do…I’m trying to run games.”

The Blue Devils just seldom get them. Interestingly, it’s another transfer that he most resembles in Duke basketball’s long history, but short one when it comes to taking in players from another program that can make an impact in Durham.

Dahntay Jones was a tough, physical dog of a player and is remembered as a Blue Devil for being that guy on the court. Theo John is cut from the same cloth — although slab of iron is more likely. Their attitude is perhaps their greatest gift to the Blue Devil program because that rubs off to the whole team and is more impactful than the few points and rebounds they gave and give during their Duke basketball careers. If only they could last forever.

dark. Next. Classless UNC honors Coach K after all

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