Blue Zone

Take of the week: Trevon Duval should have stayed at Duke for another season

Every week, the Blue Zone will make a take on Duke basketball—whether that take may be hot, cold or lukewarm. This week's take is in from men's basketball beat writer Ben Leonard: 

Trevon Duval looked nothing like a first-rounder for most of the season—not even in the G-League Draft. 

The freshman point guard certainly stepped up his game at the end of the season, but looked lost for long stretches. Duval even lost his starting job despite being the only viable true point guard on the team. 

NBA teams value 3-point shooters highly, and Duval is nowhere near a good enough 3-point shooter to take anything but wide open triples in the pros. Another year under head coach Mike Krzyzewski could help him hone his shooting stroke—or perhaps learn how to play to his strength, driving in the lane. 

There's no doubt about it: Duval is an incredible athlete. He used it at times to exploit innocent defenders and burn them in the paint, finishing at the rim with a thunderous dunk. Exhibit A: against North Carolina. 

But this dunk also represented Duval's fatal flaw: his decision-making. Just minutes after losing to the Tar Heels, Duval retweeted this clip, drawing the ire of Blue Devil fans. 

Although there's no reason to say he makes truly bad decisions off the court besides this one, he made far too many of them this season to be an impact NBA player. Turnovers crippled Duval's game—and Duke's offense—nearly all season long. 

The game will be much faster at the next level, so Duval will need to make decisions even quicker than he did in college. He was able to pick apart small conference teams, but generally struggled against top-notch competition, especially in conference play. Especially when faced with stiff competition from Tre Jones, another year in Durham could help him beef up his decision-making, before being thrown to the wolves in the NBA—which could stunt his growth irrevocably. 

That's why Sports Illustrated projects him being selected near the end of the second round in this year's draft—far below his potential. 

It's painfully obvious: Duval isn't ready to take the next step. 

Duke men’s basketball 2017-18 player review: Jack White

Jack White

● Year: Sophomore

● Height: 6-foot-7

● Position: Forward

● This year's stat line: 0.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG, .333 FG%

● The Blue Zone's projected stat line: 0.9 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.2 APG

Season breakdown:

White didn't see the floor much this year, but almost doubled his minutes from his freshman season. 

The Australian forward played in just 10 games in 2016-17, but started to see the floor outside of garbage time towards the end of the season, even if just for short spurts. 

The “Thunder from Down Under” had a career high 5 points and 7 rebounds in a win against Notre Dame that had the crowd cheering his name louder than the Cameron Crazies had been against Virginia. In this double-digit win, every time White touched the ball Crazies and teammates alike burst out in support. 

White turned into an effective piece at the end of head coach Mike Krzyzewski's bench, able to bring athleticism and hustle into the game. He also proved himself on the glass as a strong rebounder. 

Results relative to expectations: 

Stuck behind one of the most talented teams in Duke history, expectations were low for White. But he certainly made the most of his limited playing time. 

White will probably play sparingly again next season, but he can look to take a larger role as one of the few upperclassman on a team with another strong incoming freshman class. Youth and inexperience have been the pitfalls of the last two Duke season, so his leadership and energy, alongside fellow rising juniors Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier, could prove key for a team that will once again rely heavily on freshmen. 

White's review wraps up our season reviews. The Blue Zone also reviewed Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr., Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell,Jordan Goldwire, Trevon Duval, Justin Robinson, Gary Trent Jr. and Antonio Vrankovic's campaigns.

Duke men’s basketball 2017-18 player review: Antonio Vrankovic

Antonio Vrankovic

  • Year: Junior
  • Height: 7 feet
  • Position: Center
  • This year's stat line: 1.0 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.5 APG
  • The Blue Zone's projected stat line: 0.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.5 BPG

Season breakdown: 

Although he was not likely to get much playing time heading into the season, Vrankovic’s time on the floor was cut even further by head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s rotations that largely featured the same seven players for much of the season. With star freshmen Wendell Carter, Jr. and Marvin Bagley III starting ahead of him and Javin DeLaurier coming off the bench, Vrankovic didn’t see much time on the court. 

The junior got off to a good start to the year, playing his best in Duke’s win against then-No. 2 Michigan State in the Champions Classic after Bagley went down with an eye injury. But after that performance—in which he posted three points and a rebound in five minutes of play—he barely saw the court except in easy wins for the Blue Devils. His three points in that game would prove to be his season high, but he did improve on his rebounding high with five boards against St. Francis (Pa.). 

For the rest of the season, Vrankovic rarely saw the floor, save for the occasional few minutes off the bench in garbage time, including Duke’s win against Iona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Even when Bagley went down with a knee injury halfway through conference play, Vrankovic didn’t see much of an increase in playing time, with most of those minutes instead going to Marques Bolden.

Results relative to expectations: 

After steadily improving over his first two years on campus, Vrankovic was poised to continue his steady success as one of the last players off the bench in his junior year. But with the surprise arrival of Bagley, and the emergence of Carter in the starting lineup and Bolden and DeLaurier off the bench, his chances to break into Krzyzewski’s rotations dwindled quickly. When called upon, he could still provide a big presence in the paint—as demonstrated by the Michigan State game—but simply wasn’t going to see much time on the court amidst such a talented group of younger forwards. 

Going forward, it is hard to see this changing next season, even though there isn’t a true center arriving in Duke’s newest star-studded recruiting class. Vrankovic could see more time behind Bolden at center, but given Bolden’s and even DeLaurier’s progress this year, he will face a tough challenge time cracking the rotation again in 2018-19. 

Check back tomorrow for a review of Jack White's season—the last in our player review series. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen,Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr., Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell, Jordan Goldwire, Trevon Duval, Justin Robinson and Gary Trent Jr.'s campaigns.

Duke men’s basketball 2017-18 player review: Gary Trent Jr.

Gary Trent Jr.

  • Year: Freshman
  • Height: 6-foot-6
  • Position: Guard
  • This year's stat line: 14.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 40.2 3PT%
  • The Blue Zone's projected stat line: 12.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.0 APG

Season breakdown: If there were any doubts that Trent would be an crucial player at the start of the Blue Devils' season, they were quelled from the get-go. Duke's only true 3-point threat for much of the season, Trent hit seven treys in the season's opening weekend to establish himself as a key offensive piece.

But the freshman then hit a bit of a roadblock—he spent much of nonconference play tweaking his shot form beyond the arc and he struggled to find any real consistency from downtown. That didn't last long, though, as Trent began a steady run in early December and scored double-figure points in 22 of the Blue Devils' 26 final games.

The highlight performances for the Columbus, Ohio, native were in a mid-January victory at Miami and a conference tournament loss to North Carolina. Against the Hurricanes, Trent dropped a career-high 30 points with 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point land, hitting a couple of huge shots to help Duke storm past Miami in the second half. And in Brooklyn, Trent knocked down a crucial triple with less than a minute left as he scored 22 and nearly helped the Blue Devils finish a massive comeback against their rivals. 

Results relative to expectations: In almost every sense, Trent lived up to expectations. He was a consistent shooter and scorer, a slightly above average—but not elite—defender, and he started in all 37 of Duke's games this season, trailing only Grayson Allen in total minutes played.

The real question becomes what's next for the young guard. Two of his classmates have already announced their intentions to turn pro with Wendell Carter Jr. likely to soon follow, and the Blue Devils will bring in four of the seven top prospects in ESPN's 2018 recruiting class. Trent would almost certainly remain a starter on the 2018-19 squad , even if that meant bringing someone like Cameron Reddish off the Duke bench.

But how much can he improve? If the Blue Devils go with a 2-3 zone defense yet again, Trent won't get much of an opportunity to prove himself as the one-on-one defender he will need to be at the next level. If he stays, though, and Duke does go back to its usual man-to-man ways, Trent could have a big say in whether the Blue Devils make a deep March run in 2019.

Check back tomorrow for a review of Antonio Vrankovic's season. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen,Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr., Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell, Jordan Goldwire, Trevon Duval and Justin Robinson's campaigns.

The Devil's in the Details: Duke explodes for 12-run inning in sweep of Notre Dame

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 a run parade for Duke baseball and two key men's basketball departures: 


35 was the number worn by freshman Marvin Bagley III during his lone season at Duke. The freshman officially declared for the draft March 28, after earning the ACC Player of the Year award in addition to being named a member of the All-American first team. Bagley averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds per contest this season.

Find out the whole story—Duke's Marvin Bagley III declares for 2018 NBA Draft


Former Duke Associate Head Coach Jeff Capel has racked up 162 wins in his coaching career. Capel agreed to a seven-year contract to become the next head coach at Pittsburgh March 27. The Fayetteville, N.C., native previously served head coaching stints at VCU (2002-2006) and Oklahoma (2006-2011), compiling a 162-110 record. Ex-Blue Devil Chris Carrawell will fill the void left by Capel's departure. 

Find out the whole story—Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel hired as Pittsburgh's head coach AND Duke men's basketball to hire Chris Carrawell as assistant coach


Duke baseball poured on 12 runs in the eighth inning in Sunday’s 16-4 takedown of Notre Dame. With the victory, the Blue Devils earned their first three-game ACC series sweep since 2014. Thirteenth-ranked Duke also extended its win streak to six games with a 13-2 victory over Richmond Tuesday. The Blue Devils have yet to drop a series in conference play this season.

Find out the whole story—Duke baseball rallies 3 times for first 3-game ACC sweep since 2014

12 of 17

Following a perfect 5-0 start to its inaugural season, Duke softball has struggled, dropping 12 of its last 17 contests. The Blue Devils avoided a three-game sweep at Pittsburgh Sunday, squeezing out a 2-1 victory behind 5 1/3 no-hit innings by Peyton St. George. 

Find out the whole story—Duke softball shuts down Pittsburgh in series finale to avoid sweep


Trailing 9-7 with less than a minute left in the third quarter, Duke lacrosse found its offense, scoring four times over a seven-minute stretch to take an 11-7 lead against archrival North Carolina. With the win, the Blue Devils avoided a second-consecutive loss after falling to No. 13 Syracuse March 24. 

Find out the whole story—Duke men's lacrosse stages dramatic fourth-quarter comeback to rally past North Carolina

Duke men’s basketball 2017-18 player review: Justin Robinson

Justin Robinson

· Year: Redshirt sophomore

· Height: 6-foot-9

· Position: Forward

· This year’s stat line: 1.6 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.375 3FG%

· The Blue Zone’s projected stat line: 0.6 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 0.4 APG

Season breakdown:

Seeing time in just seven games, Robinson was not given many opportunities, stuck behind one of the most talented units in the country. But in the few minutes that he got to play, Robinson made the most of them. Playing mostly away from the rim, the lengthy forward only attempted—and made—two shots this season that were not from beyond the arc.

His best game came against a lowly Pittsburgh team that managed to lose every single ACC conference game, when he put up 10 points in 18 minutes of play while shooting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. 

Outside of this game, Robinson was relegated to bench duty for almost the entire season, seeing a combined 26 minutes in the next 17 games before tournament time in March, with Robinson not even seeing time on the court in 10 of those games. His biggest moment arguably came in the preseason, when he threw down a thunderous dunk against Northwest Missouri State—tune to 0:38 to watch. 

Results relative to expectations:

With only 1.7 minutes per game in 2016, very little was expected of Robinson, especially due to an incredibly talented starting five that all played at least 26 minutes per game. 

Since Robinson’s only scoring in his redshirt freshman season came at the foul line, his increased shooting from beyond the arc shows that he can continue to be a serviceable piece at the end of the bench. As a lengthy forward that can stretch the floor, Robinson could be helpful down the road if he continues to develop. 

Check back tomorrow for a review of Gary Trent Jr.'s season. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen,Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr., Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell, Jordan Goldwire and Trevon Duval's campaigns.

Duke men’s basketball 2017-18 player review: Trevon Duval

Trevon Duval 

  • Year: Freshman
  • Height: 6-foot-3
  • Position: Guard
  • This year's stat line: 10.3 PPG, 5.6 APG, 2.0 RPG
  • The Blue Zone's projected stat line: 9.6 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.2 RPG

Season breakdown: 

Duval showed flashes of brilliance this season, but was largely underwhelming due to his inconsistency. 

While Duval had his bright spots and took more control of the offense in the NCAA tournament, his struggles derailed Duke's offense at times this season. The freshman point guard was a turnover machine for most of conference play and lost his starting job for a stretch. He also drew the ire of Blue Devil fans when he retweeted a clip of his own flashy dunk just minutes after Duke lost to North Carolina Feb. 8. 

Duval was by far the worst regular at shooting from deep, but still took the third-most 3-point tries on the team, behind just Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. He abandoned his best skill—his ability to drive to the basket—at times, keeping him from reaching his full potential. 

This isn't to say Duval's season was a disaster—he certainly had his bright spots. He led the Blue Devils with 20 points against Kansas in the Elite Eight, probably the only thing that kept them in the game. At the beginning of the season, he looked like the true point guard Duke had been searching for, dishing out two double-doubles in his first three games, including a 17-point, 10-assist effort in a win against then-No. 2 Michigan State. 

Overall, Duval was an effective point guard at times for the Blue Devils, but fell far short of his potential. 

Results relative to expectations: 

Coming into the season, Duval was hailed as the true point guard that could be the final piece in the puzzle for a squad with championship aspirations. Instead, he looked nothing like the No. 1 point guard in his recruiting class for much of the season. 

While Duval was never expected to be a difference-maker from beyond the arc, he squandered his elite athleticism at times with his poor decision-making. Duval will likely leave Durham for the NBA Draft after one season, but with his stock much depleted from where it was heading into the season. 

Check back tomorrow for a review of Justin Robinson's season. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr., Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell and Jordan Goldwire's campaigns.

Duke men’s basketball 2017-18 player review: Jordan Goldwire

Jordan Goldwire

  • Year: Freshman
  • Height: 6-foot-2
  • Position: Guard
  • This year's stat line: 1.2 PPG, 1.5 APG, 0.7 RPG, 0.6 SPG
  • The Blue Zone's projected stat line: 1.8 PPG, 1.2 APG, 0.9 RPG, 0.6 SPG

Season breakdown:

A relative unknown coming into the season, Goldwire instantly was inserted into Duke’s rotation, and was the second player off the bench for the season opener against Elon. Most of Goldwire’s run was limited to nonconference play, as he averaged just 2.8 minutes per game against ACC opponents, compared to 6.9 minutes per game against nonconference foes.

Known for being a capable shooter from beyond the arc coming out of high school, the freshman guard certainly did not demonstrate his abilities in his first year, as he shot just 26.3 percent from the 3-point line. Despite his abysmal shooting, Goldwire has impressed in some areas—among players tallying 100 or more minutes, he had the most steals and second most assists per 100 posessions.

Although Goldwire did not see the court much or make much of an impact while on it, he has flashed his ability to be a true point guard with his adeptness at distribution and perimeter defense. Conceivably, Goldwire’s vision and nose for the ball could land him a bigger role next year. 

Results relative to expectations:

Goldwire entered the 2017-18 campaign with little to no expectation of making an impact for the Blue Devils. The Norcross, Ga. native was the only three-star recruit in Duke’s 2017 recruiting class (excluding walk-on Mike Buckmire), according to both 247Sports and ESPN.

The mere fact that Goldwire was called upon outside of garbage time speaks numbers to the improvement that head coach Mike Krzyzewski has seen in his game. With the graduation of Grayson Allen and likely departure of Trevon Duval, the Blue Devils will need backcourt help. Perhaps Goldwire’s ability to run the offense will lead to an increased role next winter.

Check back tomorrow for a review of Trevon Duval's season. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr., Javin DeLaurier, and Alex O'Connell's campaigns.

Duke men's basketball 2017-18 player review: Alex O'Connell

Alex O'Connell

  • Year: Freshman
  • Height: 6-foot-6
  • Position: Guard
  • This year's statline: 3.3 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.5 APG
  • The Blue Zone's projected statline: 1.6 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.0 APG

Season breakdown: 

Entering the season as somewhat of an unknown quantity, O'Connell broke out to be a human energy drink off the bench for the Blue Devils. 

The lanky freshman played 29 minutes on a huge stage in the PK80 Invitational in November against Texas, helping Duke gut out an overtime win despite Grayson Allen fouling out. A 3-point sharpshooter, O'Connell brought a strong offense repertoire along with energy when the Blue Devils needed a boost. 

O'Connell's playing time peaked in the middle of conference play, in which he averaged nearly 12 minutes per game from Jan. 10 to Feb. 11.  He burst out with 13 points against Wake Forest and 11 in a February loss to North Carolina behind hot 3-point shooting, finishing the season making 48.9 percent of his tries from deep. 

His minutes fell off a bit as the season dragged on, but the Roswell, Ga. native still was a part of the rotation. Although he was a force on offense, he struggled a bit on defense, posting the team's second-worst defensive rating. 

Results relative to expectations:

Duke didn't need O'Connell to be a star, or anything close to it, but he filled an important role and developed faster than most would have expected. Heading into the season, he wasn't expected to see the floor, especially with Jordan Tucker projected to be one of the team's top backcourt bench options. 

But Tucker never saw the court, and O'Connell grew up quickly before Blue Devil fans' eyes. Without O'Connell's emergence, Duke's bench would have been extremely thin.  Heading into the 2018-19 season, O'Connell should see an increased role as one of the few returning players with experience, provided that he improves his defense.

Check back tomorrow for a review of Jordan Goldwire's season. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr. and Javin DeLaurier's campaigns.

Duke men's basketball 2017-18 player review: Javin DeLaurier

Javin DeLaurier

Year: Sophomore

Height: 6-foot-10

Position: Forward

This year’s statline: 3.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.6 BPG

The Blue Zone’s projected statline: 7.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG

Season breakdown: 

Despite limited playing time his freshman year, DeLaurier proved the asset he could be to the team this season, when the Blue Devils struggled defensively. Averaging 12 minutes a game—five more than he did in the 2016-2017 season—DeLaurier brought energy off the bench for Duke. 

While DeLaurier didn’t contribute much offensively with Duke’s offensive game this season was centered around freshman forward Marvin Bagley III, the 231-pound Shipman, Va. native was quick to contribute on defense, whether that be in the form of hustle, rebounds, or athleticism. 

He had top performances against opponents such as then-No. 11 Clemson, when he played a career high 30 minutes and came down with 10 rebounds to help lead the Blue Devils to a 66-57 victory. He and Marques Bolden were ready to assist the team when big men Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. got into foul trouble, proving his worth as a talented defender in the paint.

Results relative to expectations:

DeLaurier fulfilled the role that was expected of him this season, with head coach Mike Krzyzewski praising his ability to bring liveliness to Blue Devil play and a hustle that was sometimes lacking. The sophomore was never expected to make big baskets or be a threat from beyond the arc. The team relied on DeLaurier to do his job as a competitive defender on the court, which he did. He also proved a viable option for when the starting big men needed a break, allowing for Duke to utilize a deeper bench than in past years. 

While there was an expectation that DeLaurier was going to play a bigger role offensively, as well as collect more boards, Bagley III and Carter Jr.’s ability to play while in foul trouble didn’t allow DeLaurier to see the flour as much as he could have. Expect DeLaurier to potentially play big minutes and be a vital player off the bench his junior year. 

Check back tomorrow for a review of Alex O'Connell's season. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden and Wendell Carter Jr.'s campaigns.