Note: This story was updated on April 22 following the commitments of Matthew Hurt and Cassius Stanley, likely completing the Blue Devils' 2019 recruiting class.
No longer is there the need to analyze cryptic social media posts.
On the eve of the final night of college basketball's 2018-19 season, Duke made it official that Tre Jones will be back for a sophomore season. Having Jones at the point next year changes things dramatically for the Blue Devils and solidifies one of their starters.
Recent commitments from Hurt and Stanley—No. 10 and No. 29 in the Class of 2019, respectively—gives Duke some much needed offensive firepower. But the addition of Hurt and Stanley came in conjunction with the news that Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier will test the NBA Draft waters.
Although some uncertainty still surrounds the Blue Devils, the 2019-20 Duke roster is coming into place. So, let's peek ahead to the upcoming season.
Who's on the roster?
While Jones is officially back, the other three Blue Devil freshmen that played significantly roles this season—Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish—all declared for the NBA Draft.
Although most thought there was a pretty good chance that Jones would depart Durham as well, it was always clear that he was the least pro-ready of the foursome. Another year will allow the Apple Valley, Minn., native to focus on the development of his offensive game.
Here's what the 2019-20 Duke roster looks like as of now:
Returning scholarship players (6): Jack White, Alex O'Connell, Jordan Goldwire, Tre Jones, Joey Baker, Justin Robinson
Incoming scholarship players (5): Vernon Carey Jr., Matthew Hurt Wendell Moore, Cassius Stanley, Boogie Ellis
Returning walk-on (1): Mike Buckmire
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Testing the NBA Draft waters (2): Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier
In all fairness, there's no real reason for Bolden and DeLaurier to not take the opportunity to get some feedback—they're both juniors who will have pro aspirations a year from now, assuming they both choose to return to the Blue Devils. Bolden is almost certainly the more likely of the two to stay in the draft, but let's assume he plays out his senior season.
No. 22 recruit Trendon Watford and 78th-ranked Anthony Harris, who re-opened his recruitment after Buzz Williams left Virginia Tech for Texas A&M, both remain undeclared, but the addition of Stanley would seem to close out Coach K's 2019 class.There's also the Class of 2020's No. 5 prospect R.J. Hampton, who could reclassify—but if that happens, it seems unlikely that he'd join Duke for the same reasons.
With Hurt and Stanley now officially in the mix, the Blue Devils will have as many as 13 scholarship players, with potentially four of their nine returners averaging double-digit minutes this past season.
Given that Coach K doesn't typically extend his usual rotation beyond eight or nine guys, at least a couple are bound to get left out.
Breaking down the roles
Like we said earlier, Jones is the only player who is guaranteed to start next season and will be the point guard every game so long as he's healthy. But how does the rest of the roster shape up?
Guards (5): Jones, O'Connell, Goldwire, Ellis, Stanley
Wings (4): Hurt, Moore, White, Baker
Bigs (4): Carey, DeLaurier, Bolden, Robinson
As long as Mike Krzyzewski is manning the Duke bench, though, it's hard to assume that positions matter—beyond point guard, that is. A starting lineup with Jones, Hurt, DeLaurier and Carey taking up four of the five spots seems the most reasonable. The fifth starter probably comes from the foursome of O'Connell, Ellis, Stanley and Moore, although White could get back into the mix at some point.
The key issue with the top four is the same as the 2018-19 Blue Devils: outside shooting. If Jones can figure out how to make the jump from 26.2 percent beyond the arc to somewhere around 35 percent, that would be a game-changer.
DeLaurier and Moore aren't known as the most dangerous 3-point weapons, which could be all the more reason for Duke to insert either O'Connell or Ellis into the starting five. Stanley is also an extremely athletic guard with an outside shot that continues to improve, adding another piece to what should be a really interesting competition between now and the start of the 2019-20 season.
And that's why White shouldn't be counted out. Before his ugly 0-for-28 slump, the soon-to-be senior was among the Blue Devils' best outside options.
In the frontcourt, don't expect Carey to be Williamson by any stretch of the imagination, but he's not just a back-to-the-basket big man. That's why Duke will probably play two big men most of the time—DeLaurier and Bolden both averaged more than 16 minutes a night last year, with one typically playing alongside Williamson.
Of course, if Bolden were to go, the Blue Devils might opt to play small-ball a bit more often than they did this past season, playing just one true big man—either Carey or DeLaurier—along with a mix of athletic guards and wings.
Odd men out
The only name we have not specifically mentioned is Baker. After Coach K pulled his redshirt late in ACC play, Baker saw just 18 minutes of action and made one field goal on four tries. The Fayetteville, N.C., native was originally slated to be a Class of 2019 prospect before reclassifying, but what he'll bring to the Blue Devils next year is by far the biggest wild card.
Baker was known as a shooter, and if he's able to fill that role, it could most certainly earn him some critical minutes. Plus, if he shows himself to be a solid defender, that could push him past a guy like O'Connell, who's been suspect on that end of the floor.
Goldwire is likely to remain stuck behind Jones, but he'll get his limited time. Goldwire was arguably Duke's third-best defender this past season behind Jones and Williamson, and the Norcross, Ga., native came up huge in the Blue Devils' dramatic victory at Louisville.
If White can't rediscover his form, he'll very likely be stuck on the pine. Baker seems equally likely to get left out of the mix. But both could also play their way into the rotation, thus bumping two others out. And Stanley could bump somebody else out of the mix, or maybe it's possible that Duke just goes with a deeper rotation than in most years.
All this means that the next seven months leading up to the Nov. 5 Champions Classic, when the Blue Devils opens their 2019-20 campaign against Kansas at Madison Square Garden, will go a long way toward figuring out the makeup of the next Duke squad.