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Freshman Wendell Carter Jr. becomes 7th selection in 2018 NBA Draft, selected by Chicago Bulls

Wendell Carter Jr. anchored what became a stifling zone defense late in the season for Duke.
Wendell Carter Jr. anchored what became a stifling zone defense late in the season for Duke.

Brooklyn, N.Y. — The Blue Devils had the top recruiting class in the nation entering the 2017-18 college basketball season with four top 10 recruits, and Duke has continued its strong showing on the draft boards with a pair of top 10 picks Thursday.

With the 7th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft the Chicago Bulls selected 6-foot-11 forward/center Wendell Carter Jr. Just minutes following the Blue Devils first selection with Carter's post-mate Marvin Bagley III being taken 2nd overall by the Sacramento Kings in what has been a big-man dominated draft in the early going. 

The Atlanta native was initially the centerpiece of Duke's 2017 recruiting class—after electing to commit to Duke instead of Harvard—before Bagley decided to reclassify last August, who became the top-rated prospect in his class.  

Despite playing alongside an scoring big man in Bagley, Carter was still able to find his zone on the court, averaging 13.5 points while grabbing 9.1 boards per contest. The 6-foot-11 big man also added 16 double-doubles on the season. 

The talented freshman impressed most with his defensive maturity and ability to guard some of the massive college centers not seen by most in high school play. Defense was never an issue for Carter throughout the season unlike other top-recruit big men including Marques Bolden, Chase Jeter and Bagley. Carter additionally was able to make up for some of his teammates defensive lapses with his shot blocking ability, leading the team with 2.1 rejections per game.

On the other hand, the freshman big man also impressed with his ability to effectively shoot the ball from distance and space the floor. Carter made 19 three-point attempts this season, while converting at a 41.3 percent clip. On Dec. 20 against Evansville, Carter drained a career-high four shots from beyond the arc en route to a 27-point performance—also a career-high.

While the Atlanta native was often overshadowed by Bagley on the court, Carter shined in the Blue Devils' four games without Bagley who was nursing a mild knee sprain. Between Feb. 11 and Feb. 21, Carter led Duke to a 4-0 record while sparking a stretch of seven consecutive games where the Blue Devils defense held its opponents under 70 points.

Offensively during that stretch, Carter averaged more than 16 points and 10 rebounds per game, affirming the belief that his production was hampered with the Blue Devils abundance of offensive talents and Bagley taking over in the paint.

With Bagley and Carter now off the board, only Gary Trent Jr., Trevon Duval and Grayson Allen from Duke are awaiting their selections. 

The Fit: Carter will provide a dominant interior presence on a team that was relatively perimeter oriented with shooting big man Lauri Markkanen and shooters Zach Lavine and Justin Holiday. Carter's ability to be an offensive threat down low will draw the defense into the paint and allow Markkanen to escape to midrange for open looks.

On the flip side, the Atlanta native will also bolster a struggling defense with a pair of below-average defenders on the interior with Markkanen and Robin Lopez. Carter anchored Duke's zone defense, and has been lauded for his maturity on the defensive end. He'll could step into the starting lineup immediately and bring the Bulls closer to the defensive juggernaut they were known as during the Tom Thibodeau era.


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