Freshman men's basketball players Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett have declared for the NBA draft. But in their one season at Duke, the roommates showed their friendship on the court.
At photo day before the season began, Williamson, Barrett and classmate Cam Reddish couldn't keep straight faces as they tried to pose for pictures.
The two biggest stars of a freshman class Sports Illustrated dubbed the "Fabbest Five" in a cover story, head coach Mike Krzyzewski described the process for recruiting the class at a media day earlier in the season.
"They’ve communicated almost all of senior year, they’ve played against one another, and they love Duke," Krzyzewski said. "They love being students, they want a college experience, and it’s just worked out.”
After point guard Tre Jones committed and started a group chat to rope in the others, the class came together.
Waiting for the beginning of the Ferris State exhibition game in late October, the four freshman were joined by junior Marques Bolden.
Barrett and Williamson would go on to combine for 55 points in the game, with Williamson racking up 10 rebounds to boot.
The first game of the regular season came against then-No. 2 Kentucky on the road. In the highly anticipated matchup, the Blue Devils came out firing on all cylinders and beat the Wildcats 118-84.
"Me and the freshmen, we had a little group message before we came here, we just built a bond outside of basketball, because at the end of the day, it’s more than basketball," Williamson said after the game. "We get the chemistry off court, and then we get it on the court."
In the last few minutes of the Georgia Tech game at home in January, Barrett threw down a dunk off a behind-the-back assist from Jones as Williamson celebrated.
As the last seconds ticked off the clock and the Blue Devils took down Virginia in Charlottesville, the roommate pair embraced.
When the Blue Devils played N.C. State at home in February, the freshman duo again combined for 55 points as Barrett hauled in 11 rebounds.
Lined up for the national anthem before playing North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Williamson was in plain clothes as he remained sidelined with a knee injury. The Blue Devils would fall to the Tar Heels as Barrett put up 26 points.
Williamson and Jones celebrate a slam by Barrett in the ACC Championship game against Florida State.
After the game, sophomore reserve Mike Buckmire made sure Barrett got his championship hat as he and Williamson talked with press.
At the awards ceremony, Williamson picked up ACC Tournament MVP and the team claimed the program's second ACC Championship trophy in three years.
At the NCAA tournament, the freshman pair joined Krzyzewski in talking with the media.
Williamson jumped in celebration as Barrett threw down a slam against No. 16 seed North Dakota State University in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Williamson and Barrett shared a high-five in their last game as Blue Devils in the Elite Eight.
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Bre is a senior political science major from South Carolina, and she is the current video editor, special projects editor and recruitment chair for The Chronicle. She is also an associate photography editor and an investigations editor. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief and local and national news department head.