Blue Zone


Duke in the NBA: Tatum exerting dominance in his first postseason



As the second round of the NBA Playoffs continues, the Blue Zone examines the performance of three former Blue Devils.

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics 

With Boston’s leading scorer Kyrie Irving sidelined with a knee injury, Tatum has been forced into a leading role for the team. The Duke product has the highest playoffs usage percentage among Celtics who have logged 100 or more minutes at 24.5 percent. 

Tatum has grown into this more substantial role as the playoffs have progressed. In Boston’s seven-game series victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, he scored just 15.4 points per game on a .402 field goal percentage. Through the first four games of the Celtics’ series against the Philadelphia 76ers, the 20-year-old has been magnificent, tallying 23.3 points per game on a .524 field goal percentage. Tatum’s willingness to go inside and draw contact—he is averaging a team-best 6.5 free-throw attempts per game in the second round—has helped to give Boston a 3-1 series lead.

Rodney Hood, Cleveland Cavaliers

One of the Cavaliers’ many midseason acquisitions, Hood has been very disappointing for Cleveland. The 6’7” shooting guard has apparently fallen out of favor with head coach Tyronn Lue and scored just 2 points total in the Cavaliers’ sweep over the Toronto Raptors. 

Hood reportedly refused to enter the game in the fourth quarter of Game 4, which resulted in a 128-93 Cleveland win. Rumors of a possible suspension for Hood cast an ugly shadow over the Cavaliers’ impressive series.

J.J. Redick, Philadelphia 76ers

Redick’s excellent season has continued into the 76ers’ postseason run. The Duke graduate leads his team in both offensive box plus/minus and total points in the playoffs. Unfortunately, "The Process'" magical run seems to be grinding to a halt, as Philadelphia currently trails Boston in the series 3-1.

Perhaps Redick, who has been prominent in the media with The J.J. Redick Podcast, will welcome a potential early exit for the 76ers, as he plans to take the GMAT this offseason. He had previously scheduled to take this exam on April 21 but he was instead busy leading Philadelphia to a 106-102 victory over the Miami Heat.



Former Blue Devils Mike Ramsay, Shaun Wilson and Austin Davis ink deals with NFL teams



Just a few hours after the conclusion of the 2018 NFL Draft, three former Blue Devils, defensive tackle Mike Ramsay, running back Shaun Wilson and center Austin Davis, inked undrafted free agent contracts with professional teams.

Duke’s presence in the NFL just became a bit more known.

Ramsay, who purportedly garnered interest from multiple organizations, signed with the Tennessee Titans. The 2017 third-team all-ACC selection anchored a very strong Duke defensive line last season, leading the team in sacks and placing second in tackles for loss. However, Ramsay may best be able to get his foot in the door through special teams—he blocked two kicks in the 2017 campaign.

Wilson, who served as a Swiss Army knife for the Blue Devils throughout his four years, was picked up by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. The speedster notched a healthy 5.2 yards per rushing attempt in his career. In addition to his explosiveness on the ground, Wilson proved to be an effective pass catcher, with 36 receptions his senior year. Similar to Ramsay, he can be an immediate contributor on special teams, as he is eleventh in the ACC in career kickoff return yards per return, at a clip of 25.3 yards.

Davis will join the Green Bay Packers, where he will join forces with another Duke graduate in Lucas Patrick. The Mansfield, Texas native, who was also a third-team all-ACC selection last year, started every game for the Blue Devils in 2016 and 2017.

On Sunday, fellow Duke products, cornerback Bryon Fields Jr. and quarterback Thomas Sirk, signed with the New York Giants. Fields Jr. started 39 games for the Blue Devils, and was second on the team in both interceptions and pass breakups last season. Sirk, who played 2017 for East Carolina, is a capable runner, and rushed for over 1,000 yards at his time at Duke. The former Blue Devil worked out for professional teams at tight end as well ass quarterback.



Duke in the NBA: Redick carries Philadelphia to first playoff series victory in 15 years



As the first round continues, the Blue Zone takes a look at three former Blue Devils who have been making noise in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics 

With star teammates Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward out for the season, all eyes in Boston have been on rookie sensation Jayson Tatum. The former Blue Devil helped lead the Celtics to a 2-0 series lead in their first-round matchup against the Bucks, but Milwaukee was able to defend home court in Games 3 and 4 to tie the series up at two games apiece. Despite the results, Tatum shone once again, scoring 14 and 21 points while showcasing his highlight-reel offensive arsenal.

Boston took a 3-2 series lead Tuesday night with a win at home, a game in which Tatum struggled from the floor, shooting just 2-of-7 and scoring eight points. 

Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

After falling behind 2-0 in their first-round matchup with the Boston Celtics, Parker has played an integral role in their comeback to tie up the series. The once-injury-riddled forward scored just two points in Game 1 and none in Game 2, and voiced his frustration about his limited playing time to reporters. 

“I am human. I have a right to be frustrated," Parker told WISN. "I’ve waited two years for this.”

Evidently, Bucks interim head coach Joe Prunty took his complaints to heart, as Parker received 30 minutes in Game 3 and dropped 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting in a 116-92 demolition of the Celtics. The trend continued in Sunday’s game, as Parker scored another 16 points to go along with 7 rebounds in a 104-102 victory.

Parker continued his hot play Tuesday, scoring 17 points off the benc, but it wasn't enough to stop Boston from taking a 3-2 series lead. 

J.J. Redick, Philadelphia 76ers

Redick has been on fire, helping the 76ers win their first playoff series since 2003. 

A week after exploding for 28 points and four 3-pointers in the 76ers’ playoff opener against Justise Winslow and the Miami Heat, Redick scored 24 to help give Philadelphia the edge in 106-102 Game 4 victory before dropping 27 in a series-clinching victory Tuesday. Redick led the 76ers in scoring in three of those five first round games.

Philadelphia will face the winner of the Celtics-Bucks series for a chance to reach the Eastern Conference finals. 



Duke in the NBA: Redick and Tatum erupt in the playoffs



With the opening round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs underway, there are plenty of Blue Devils still in action—Duke leads all ACC teams with 12 alumni on current playoff rosters, and there certainly a number of guys putting up big numbers. The Blue Zone takes a look at just some of the Blue Devils doing work in the postseason:

Shooters shoot

When the 76ers signed J.J. Redick in the offseason, it was clear what his role would be, yet no one expected the 33-year-old to put up the best season of his career. After averaging nearly 20 points a night in the regular season, Redick came out firing in Philadelphia's playoff opener to the tune of 28 points with 8-of-8 shooting at the charity stripe. He also added four 3-pointers—the 76ers dropped a playoff franchise-record 18 treys in the Game 1 victory. 



But after Redick scored just 10 points Monday night and shot 1-of-7 from long distance, his team will need a bounce-back performance Thursday in Miami for Game 3.

Age is just a number

If anyone thought Jayson Tatum would be nervous going into his first-ever postseason games, think again. The Celtics' rookie played 44 minutes in a Game 1 that needed overtime for Boston to snatch a victory, and Tatum opened his playoff ledger with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double. Although it wasn't the most efficient—Duke's most recent one-and-done needed 18 shots to make eight field goals—Tatum's offense came up big in the extra period.

He wasn't able to turn in the same type of numbers in Game 2, scoring just four points in a half-hour of action, but it was no problem as the Celtics cruised to a 14-point win and held home court to go up 2-0 in the series against Milwaukee. But Jabari Parker has struggled for the Bucks, scoring only two points thus far through 25 minutes combined in Games 1 and 2.

Waiting to break out

Other than Redick and Tatum, the rest of the ex-Blue Devils in the playoffs have yet to put up any big performances. Through two games, no other players have scored more than 14 total points. Justise Winslow has been important for the Heat in helping to physically defend Philadelphia's Ben Simmons, Quinn Cook is holding down some important minutes for the Warriors at the point with Steph Curry still sidelined and Rodney Hood could be the sidekick that LeBron James needs in Cleveland going forward.

Still with no standout performances, there isn't much to report. But with as many as four of the seven healthy Duke alums likely to advance, there will be chances for them to step up going forward.



The Devil's in the Details: Duke loses its entire starting five



They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details—and numbers. 

Each week, the Blue Zone will dissect five key numbers from last week's action in Duke sports, whether they be historic or underwhelming. This week, let the numbers take you inside men's basketball losing its entire starting lineup and women's basketball's pair of WNBA Draft selections. 

86 percent

With Wendell Carter Jr.'s NBA Draft declaration Monday, Duke has officially lost more than 86 percent of its scoring from last season and its entire starting lineup.  Freshmen Marvin Bagley III, Gary Trent Jr., and Trevon Duval also declared for the draft over the last few weeks and senior Grayson Allen graduated. The Blue Devils should be able to replace much of that scoring next season with the ESPN 100’s top three players from the Class of 2018 coming in.

Find out the full story—Duke's Wendell Carter Jr. declares for 2018 NBA Draft

9 and 31

Duke women’s basketball graduate students Lexie Brown and Rebecca Greenwell were selected in the WNBA draft Wednesday. Brown was taken by the Connecticut Sun in the first round with the ninth overall pick, while Greenwell was selected in the third round, 31st-overall by the Washington Mystics. Brown also became the first daughter of a former WNBA head coach to be drafted—her father Dee Brown had coached the Orlando Miracle and San Antonio Silver Stars.

Find out the full story—Duke women's basketball's Lexie Brown, Rebecca Greenwell selected in WNBA Draft

5

Duke baseball enters its matchup against No. 12 East Carolina Tuesday with five victories against ranked opponents on the season. The Blue Devils picked up their fourth and fifth wins in Tallahassee, Fla., this past weekend with a 7-1 and 6-5 victory on Friday and Saturday respectively against then-No. 10 Florida State. Duke will have an opportunity to add to its ranked win total with a three-game set against No. 4 N.C. State at home this weekend.

Find out the full story—Duke baseball looks for third-consecutive top-15 victory against East Carolina Tuesday

39

With her 6-1, 6-2 victory against Pittsburgh’s Gabriela Rezende Sunday, Duke women’s tennis’ Samantha Harris passed Reka Zsilinszka became the ACC’s singles wins record holder with her 39th career ACC victory. Harris will have a chance to build upon her record next weekend when the Blue Devils host North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Find out the full story—Samantha Harris sets Duke women's tennis career ACC singles wins record in team sweep

94.7 percent

Following Duke men’s lacrosse’s 18-13 win against Virginia Saturday, the Blue Devils’ improved their win percentage against the Cavaliers to 94.7 percent, winning 18 of 19 games since 2005. The victory did not come easy for Duke, which saw a six goal advantage cut to one, before the Blue Devils netted six-consecutive goals of their own to take a commanding 18-11 lead.

Find out the full story—Duke men's lacrosse clinches No. 2 seed in ACC with road win at Virginia



A look ahead: Scouting Tre Jones



As college basketball has drawn to a close, the Blue Zone will take an early look at Duke’s incoming recruiting class—the top-ranked group in the nation. After scouting R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish, we scout the nation's top point guard recruit, Tre Jones: 

Scouting report: strengths

Jones is an adept playmaker in the lane, both in setting his teammates up and finishing through contact with either hand. He also has an arsenal of floaters and pull ups that can to combat the length of big men at the college level.

At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Jones isn’t as physically imposing as others in his recruiting class, but his elite athleticism allows him to be an effective shot blocker and finisher at the rim in traffic. Jones also pulled down 8.9 rebounds a game in his senior campaign, contributing to his future teammate Zion Williamson’s deeming Tre “a walking triple-double.”


Despite the flashy dunks and passes in this tape, Jones’s most valuable attributes are his intangibles. Jones is a poised floor general who thrives when being in the driver seat.

“He talks offensively and defensively, tells you were to be, what you’ve got to do on and off the court,” said Jones’s future teammate, Cam Reddish in an interview with UPROXX.

Scouting report: potential weaknesses

Jones will need to develop his perimeter shot to demand enough respect from defenders to create space for drive-first teammates like Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett.

The lack of a consistent jump shot could make Tre’s adjustment to playing with ball-dominant wings less fluid. Much of his productivity in high school came through on-ball screens, which he will see significantly less of with offensive options like Cam Reddish.

Recent Duke comparison:

In terms of playing style, Duke’s point guard position will see little turnover as Jones bears on-paper resemblance to Trevon Duval—an athletic, do-it-all point guard who thrives in the lane and struggles with consistency shooting from the perimeter.

As a product of not sharing the backcourt with an experienced guard like Grayson Allen.  Given his vocal leadership, Jones will bear more leadership responsibilities—which could prove a valuable opportunity. 

Floor:

If Jones can’t make defenders respect his outside shot, Duke could suffer from an over-congested offense that’s overly dependent on getting into the lane and ineffective against zone defenses.

Ceiling:

In an ideal scenario, Jones will develop into a floor general capable of coordinating perhaps the most talented recruiting class basketball has seen. If he further refines his defense and develops a consistent 3-point shot, he could become a pass-first point guard capable of spacing the floor, locking down opposing point guards and enticing any NBA scout. 



A look ahead: Scouting Cam Reddish



As college basketball has drawn to a close, the Blue Zone will take an early look at Duke’s incoming recruiting class—the top-ranked group in the nation. After scouting R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, we scout No. 3 overall recruit Cam Reddish: 

Scouting report: strengths

Cameron Reddish is the kind of prospect that NBA scouts drool over. Standing 6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan, he has excellent size and length for a shooting guard; and with his fluid athleticism, Reddish makes even the most difficult plays look easy. 

Reddish is arguably the most well-rounded freshman entering the college ranks next season. Ideally, he’s a wing who plays off the ball and hunts for his shot. But he has also shown the ability to handle the ball and make plays for his teammates, both in transition and in the half court. 


With his length and athleticism, Reddish has the potential to be a defensive stopper who can switch across at least three positions. Most importantly, Reddish possesses elite scoring potential and the skillset to score at all three levels. He has displayed the creativity to create his own shot and has a knack for drawing fouls and converting at the line. 

Scouting report: weaknesses

One of the top concerns for Reddish is his effort. At times, it seems like he’s simply going through the motions, coasting on his talent. Although he’s an impressive athlete, he doesn’t have the same explosiveness as fellow recruits Zion Williamson and R.J Barrett.  Moreover, at just 210 pounds, he could stand to put on some weight, especially if head coach Mike Krzyzewski expects him to switch onto power forwards. 

Finally, Reddish simply needs more polish to his game, especially with his ball handling, and jumpshot. He’s a streaky shooter from deep and has displayed questionable shot selection, often settling for tough jumpers. 

During the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League season, he shot just 28 percent from deep numbers. He’s also a little loose with his handle, something he will need to address before Coach K will give him meaningful reps as a ball handler. That being said, Reddish has all the tools to be a high-impact player at the next level, the question is whether he can put it all together. 

Recent Duke comparison:

Reddish, along with fellow recruits Barrett and Williamson, is next in the ever-growing line of impressive wing prospects to play at Duke. While there isn’t a perfect comparison for Reddish, his profile is similar to that of Rodney Hood.

The two share similar body types and both are smooth and fluid athletes—with Reddish grading out as the more explosive of the two. Hood developed into a reliable scorer and an excellent 3-point shooter and Reddish certainly has the potential to do the same. Hood was also limited defensively, and those concerns will carry over to Reddish if he doesn’t apply himself on that end of the floor.

Floor

Shooting is a big question mark on next year's Duke squad, so Krzyzewski will be depending on Reddish to develop into a consistent threat from beyond the arc in order to make space for Barrett and Williamson. If Reddish can’t deliver, not only will Duke’s chances at a national title take hit, but he will also severely hurt his draft stock. Reddish can impact a game in a number of ways, but nothing is more important than that jumper. 

Ceiling 

If Reddish proves to be a reliable shooter and an above-average perimeter defender, he could easily outshine his fellow recruits. He’s already considered a lottery pick in the 2019 draft, but improving those two skills could lead to a deep tournament run for Duke and an outside chance at a top-three pick. 



A look ahead: Scouting Zion Williamson



As college basketball has drawn to a close, the Blue Zone will take an early look at Duke’s incoming recruiting class—the top-ranked group in the nation. We will now take a look at power forward Zion Williamson, the No. 2 recruit in the nation: 

Scouting report: strengths

Williamson’s most obvious attribute is his incredible athleticism. The 6-foot-6, 272-pound forward became a national sensation early in his high school career when viral videos of his highlight-reel dunks began circulating on social media.


Williamson is a unique player who is able to dominate at his position with his strength rather than height. The best comparison would be Charles Barkley, who revolutionized the power forward position despite standing just 6-foot-6 and went on to establish himself as one of the finest rebounders in NBA history. A fierce shot-blocker, tremendous rebounder and capable ball-handler, Williamson is much more than a dunker.

Scouting report: potential weaknesses

Williamson, at 6-foot-6, is undersized for his position, but hopes to compensate for it with his strength and imposing frame. As players like Barkley and Draymond Green have shown, technique and physicality are often more important than height.

Another aspect of Williamson’s game which may hold him back is his shooting. He rarely pulls the trigger from past the 3-point line, and is rather ineffective when he does. The young sensation made just seven of his 35 attempts from behind the arc his senior year, but an incredible 84.7% of his 2-point field goal attempts. In order to keep defenders on their toes and avoid becoming one-dimensional, Williamson should look to hone his perimeter shot. 

Recent Duke comparison:

Truthfully, Duke has never had a player quite like Zion Williamson, and there are very few programs that can say they have. The closest the Blue Devils have come would likely be Carlos Boozer, who helped bring Duke a national championship in 2001. 

Like Boozer, Williamson is undersized for his position but uses his large frame and overpowering strength to bully his opponents. However, Williamson is much more athletic, with some comparing his explosiveness to that of 14-time NBA All-Star LeBron James, another player who achieved nationwide fame as a high school player.

Floor: 

At the college level, Williamson will no longer be competing against severely-outmatched high schoolers. The 17-year-old will have to prove to his critics that he is more than just a human highlight reel and work with Mike Krzyzewski to develop his all-around game, including a consistent jumpshot. If he is unsuccessful, he will still be an effective scorer and highlight reel machine, but his impact on winning may be limited.

Ceiling: 

If Williamson is indeed able to increase his range and help spread the floor for Krzyzewski’s team, he will become a near-unstoppable offensive force. Opponent defenses will be in complete disarray as they try to contain Williamson without leaving fellow freshmen R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish open. Together, Duke’s elite recruiting class could have a great chance of bringing another national championship banner to Cameron Indoor Stadium.



A look ahead: Scouting R.J. Barrett



As college basketball has drawn to a close, the Blue Zone will take an early look at Duke’s incoming recruiting class—the top-ranked group in the nation. We start with small forward R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 recruit in the nation: 

Scouting report: strengths

At 6-foot-7, Barrett is a guard/wing with tremendous athleticism. A slasher, he can drive to the rim in isolation like on this play here in the McDonald’s All-American Game. 


As you can see from the rest of these highlights, he’s excellent at making plays in transition and throws down thunderous dunks like fellow Duke commit Zion Williamson. He’s also a left-hander like Marvin Bagley III, which can throw off defenders expecting a shot from the other side. 

But he isn’t just raw talent—one scout thinks he’s very well-polished. 

“His handle is tight and under control even in traffic, and he can both pull back for jumpers and step on the gas going to the basket,” MassLive's Tom Westerholm wrote.  "When he accelerates, he has long strides that cover a ton of ground on his way to the basket. The combination of speed, long strides and excellent pace will serve him really well at the next level.”

Scouting report: potential weaknesses

While Barrett has a lot of athleticism to play with, he has struggled to find a consistent perimeter shot. But it’s not beyond repair or something that can’t develop over time, Westerholm thinks. 

“It's far from broken. When he gets his feet set both off the catch and off the dribble, it looks considerably better than it did a year ago,” Westerholm wrote

Another more obvious potential weakness could be his size. Although he is tall and long, he  currently checks in at just 200 pounds, according to ESPN. He will have time to beef up before he sees the floor at Duke, but head coach Mike Krzyzewski might not be opposed to see him get a bit stronger. 

Recent Duke comparison:

Krzyzewski has leaned heavily on versatile forwards like Barrett in recent years, for example Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum. Ingram probably brought more from deep than Barrett will at this point and Tatum plays more post-up basketball than Barrett will. But Barrett is a much better finisher than either of them. 

There isn’t a perfect comparison for Barrett, but he has a somewhat similar profile to both Ingram and Tatum with his versatility. 

Floor: 

If Barrett can’t develop a consistent 3-point shot, Duke could become one-dimensional on offense, without an intimidating perimeter presence. He’ll be a great driver without a doubt, but he could see his draft stock and the Blue Devils fortunes drop a bit if he can’t completely round out his game. 

Ceiling: 

If everything goes right for Barrett, he hones his 3-point shot and becomes a transcendent scorer. He could approach Bagley’s scoring numbers if everything goes perfectly, helping make Duke the overwhelming national title favorites and earning him the honor of being drafted first overall. 



The Devil's in the Details: Duke will lose 86 percent of its scoring from last year



They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details—and numbers. 

Each week, the Blue Zone will dissect five key numbers from last week's action in Duke sports, whether they be historic or underwhelming. This week, let the numbers take you inside some key departures from the men's basketball team and a strong win for men's lacrosse. 

86 percent

With the likely loss of its entire starting five, Duke men's basketball will have to replace 86 percent of its points scored heading into next season. Grayson Allen will graduate and Marvin Bagley III, Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval have all declared for the NBA Draft. Wendell Carter Jr. is also overwhelmingly likely to declare as well. However, the Blue Devils will bring in the nation's top recruiting class for the second year in a row, which includes the No. 1, 2 and 3 recruits in the nation. 

Find out the whole story—Duke guard Gary Trent Jr. declares for NBA Draft, Duke's Trevon Duval declares for 2018 NBA Draft AND Duke's Marvin Bagley III declares for 2018 NBA Draft

32 

The No. 6 Blue Devils held No. 12 Notre Dame scoreless for the final 32 minutes of an 8-2 win Saturday. Duke goalie Danny Fowler had to stop just four shots all afternoon in the win, although the Fighting Irish were without their top two point-scorers. The Blue Devils will close out the regular season of conference play Saturday in Charlottesville against Virginia. 

Find out the whole story—Duke men's lacrosse holds Notre Dame to 2 goals in comfortable road win

18

Faced with a road test in tough weather conditions against the No. 2 team in the nation, Duke women's lacrosse folded, giving up 18 goals. Boston College downed the No. 15 Blue Devils 18-8 in what was the lowest scoring output for Duke all season. Duke struggled mightily with taking care of the ball, allowing the Eagles to force eight more turnovers than the Blue Devils. 

Find out the whole story—Duke women's lacrosse struggles with turnovers, falls to undefeated Boston College

2

Without star Nico Alvarez, Duke men's tennis dropped a pair of ACC matches against Louisville on Friday and Notre Dame on Sunday. Alvarez was representing his home country of Peru in the 2018 Davis Cup. The No. 18 Blue Devils fell 5-2 in both matches, sending their record to a meager 4-4 in conference play. 

Find out the whole story—Duke men's tennis loses pair of ACC matches without Alvarez

8

With the NFL Draft approaching, eight Blue Devils worked out Tuesday at Duke football's pro day. Four members of Duke's 2017 roster, including running back Shaun Wilson and center Austin Davis, showed off their skills, but ex-Blue Devil quarterback Thomas Sirk also returned. Sirk had transferred to East Carolina for his final season of eligibility, but now hopes to make it in the NFL as a tight end.  

Find out the whole story—Thomas Sirk returns to work out as tight end at Duke football's Pro Day