With the preseason coming to a close, No. 12 Duke is set to play a tough schedule, and all eyes are on the Blue Devils—and their two graduate students in the backcourt—to see if they can make this one of the team’s most successful seasons since head coach Joanne P. McCallie arrived at Duke in 2007.

Rebecca Greenwell and Lexie Brown enter the year with a chance at leaving a lasting impact on the future of the program. They were both chosen as preseason All-Americans after combining to average 34.7 points per game and knocking down 156 three-pointers last season, and they are natural leaders on a team with five first-year players. 

“We have a long way to go,” McCallie said. “But what I love about our team is the opportunity that players like Lexie and Becca have to influence the team from experience, from competitive experience and that type of thing.”

Brown, a native of Suwanee, Ga., could be considered the more experienced of the two preseason All-Americans. Brown is the only player on the team to have reached the Final Four, which she did so in both of her seasons at Maryland before she transferred to Duke. In her Blue Devil debut last year, Brown had one of the best seasons in program history, setting the ACC record with 56 straight free throws made and ranking sixth in the nation in points scored. But she still thinks there is more on the table.

“My personal goals include having a better season than I had last year, whatever that means for the team,” Brown said. “I just want to do whatever I can to help us win and be successful.”

Greenwell, a product of Owensboro, Ky., has been a Blue Devil from the beginning. She sat out her freshman year with a torn ACL, but has made an immediate impact from the moment she stepped on the court. A powerhouse from the 3-point line, Greenwell is second in Duke history in career 3-point field goals made with 228. Last season, Greenwell was named first-team All-ACC, but this is her first year receiving preseason All-American recognition.  

“It means a lot. It’s a huge honor, something that I’ve always wanted,” Greenwell said. “But I’m just focused on the team and our team goals.”

Both Brown and Greenwell are team captains for the second straight year, carrying a natural team-oriented mindset to try to maximize this group’s potential in their final year in Durham.

“It’s kind of sad, but it’s super cool to have Becca and Bego here for our fifth year,” Brown said. “We feel really old. We’re the grandmas of the team. We just want to leave with a bang, leave with a legacy here and leave the program better than we found it.” 

These veterans will have to prepare their younger teammates for a gauntlet right off the bat, with matchups against Oregon State, Ohio State and reigning national champion South Carolina in a four-game stretch in the first month of the season. 

“From a non-technical standpoint, they have to work on their ability to influence the team,” McCallie said when asked where the duo could improve. “When you look at Becca, she has such a work ethic, she’s such a great competitor, she never changes her demeanor.... Lexie is very intense, especially on defense. That’s really important that that influence hits the team a lot.” 

Brown and Greenwell are excited about the supporting cast they have around them this season. Players like sophomore Leaonna Odom and freshman Mikayla Boykin could complement the two household names well during the season. 

“Leaonna Odom has tons of potential, very athletic, very talented and she’s really shown that so far in preseason,” Greenwell said. “Mikayla Boykin—she’s a freshman, has lots of talent and she’s not shy. She’s very aggressive out on the floor, and I think that’s something you need out there, especially as a freshman.” 

Those young players will have plenty of opportunities to leave their mark at Duke, but Brown and Greenwell cannot wait. This is the year that will solidify their legacies in Durham, and they are hoping to make it count.

Hank Tucker and Conner McLeod contributed reporting.