As the calendar shifts to November, it is becoming apparent that basketball season is on the horizon. That means that it is time for our player previews of every member of Duke men's basketball. Read the previous previews: Mike Buckmire, Michael Savarino, Kennan Worthington, Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman III.
Last year’s statline: N/A
Game breakdown: DJ Steward, a five-star combo guard out of Chicago, Ill., will be taking the court for the Blue Devils this season as the 23rd overall recruit in the country according to ESPN. The former McDonald’s All-American comes off a senior year in which he averaged 22.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game for Whitney Young High School. As an absolute scorer and an impressive shooter, Steward will be a strong addition to the Duke roster this season.
Though Steward is a bit undersized at just 163 pounds, his impact on the offense cannot be understated. Steward is extremely efficient as a shooter, specifically from long range, averaging 24.1 points and shooting 41 percent from three in the summer of 2019 on the Nike EYBL circuit. Steward’s game is not just limited to the outside, as his quick play gives him the chance to drive to the paint and score over bigger opponents. With solid ball-handling skills and a good eye for passing, Steward has the ability to step into the point guard role if needed. However, he is most comfortable getting open to do what he does best: make shots.
Role on the team: The West Chicago native will make an immediate impact on the court for the Blue Devils, receiving significant minutes for the team. While it remains unclear if he will earn the starting job, Steward certainly has the talent to push fellow teammates Jeremy Roach and Wendell Moore Jr. for playing time.
Regardless of whether Steward takes over a starting role, his presence will be made known on the court and, more specifically, on the scoreboard. Expect the combo guard to contribute meaningfully on the offensive end, while also getting involved as a passer to pick up some of the slack from Tre Jones’ absence.
It’s hard to imagine that Steward will really take over the primary point guard role for the Blue Devils, especially with such a talented guard in Jeremy Roach. Nonetheless, he can certainly handle the ball in spurts while Roach is on the bench to lead the offense. Overall, look for the heralded recruit to carve out his role in the team, and expect him to be ready to make shots in big moments.
NBA comparison: Jamal Murray is the perfect comparison for DJ Steward, as both players possess much of the same skill set and have the same killer scoring instinct. Just as Murray has established himself as an elite shooter and offensive weapon for the Nuggets, Steward has the potential to provide efficient and high-volume offense for the Blue Devils this season. So in the coming months, prepare to see Jamal Murray’s smooth three ball and wiry offensive gameplay in DJ Steward.
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Predicted stats: 9.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 18.8 MPG