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 and Michael Savarino.
Last year’s statline: N/A
Game breakdown: Take a look at Worthington’s measurements. Does that remind you of another 6-foot-9 walk-on forward? Last year’s fan-favorite, Justin Robinson, has an uncanny amount of similarities with the Chapel Hill native. Robinson went from riding the bench to starting the last game of the 2019-2020 season, but unfortunately no one got to see him in the ACC and NCAA tournaments, respectively. Can Worthington follow the same path?
He has a ways to go before he reaches both the level of play and fan affection that Robinson had, but there is a ton of promise in him. He has the height to play in an ACC game, and the 14 extra pounds he put on this offseason is only going to help him hold his own against the other big men of the conference.
He does most of his offensive damage in the paint, but he is not a player that only sees the hoop when he gets the ball in the post. Going back to his high school days, Worthington can facilitate from the key and dish the ball out to backdoor cutters and open spot shooters. The Blair Academy product isn’t afraid to pull it from beyond the arc himself, only adding to his list of similarities with Robinson. His defense is more of a question mark with how little we have gotten to see of him in college, but overall Worthington has the potential to take on a bigger role.
Role on the team: With five-star recruit Mark Williams and graduate transfer Patrick Tapé, Worthington will likely only be seeing playing time in the waning minutes of blowouts. Much like his fellow walk-ons, he knows the impact his energy and enthusiasm can have on his team, so we will see him joining Michael Savarino and Mike Buckmire in keeping his team motivated.
For his role on the court, Worthington is going to need to make the most out of his limited minutes and show the coaching staff he can be trusted with more important minutes in the future. Being a big man who can stretch the floor and clear out the paint is an aspect of Worthington’s game that can help him find his way onto the court sooner. Winning some difficult rebounds is something that Worthington did in high school, so if Duke needs help on the boards, he can provide it.
NBA comparison: Meyers Leonard
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The best NBA comparison for Worthington is Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard. Neither of them are high-volume three point shooters, but they both can hit a three when their team needs it. Leonard stands a few inches taller, but neither plays a traditional big man role because both can stretch the floor while still getting in position to grab rebounds.
For anyone watching the NBA playoffs, Leonard injected energy into the Heat in every game, whether he was on the court or not. The passion that they both have for the game of basketball is infectious and each knows how to use it to help their team, regardless of how much playing time they get.
Projected stat line: 0 PPG, 0 MPG, 0 RPG