As Duke men's basketball wraps up its season, the Blue Zone gives individual breakdowns of each player's season with comparisons to their preseason projections. Read the previous player breakdowns here: Mike Buckmire, Patrick Tapé, Jaemyn Brakefield, Henry Coleman III, Joey Baker and Jeremy Roach.
Wendell Moore Jr.
- Year: Sophomore
- Height: 6-foot-5
- Position: Forward
- This year’s stat line: 9.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 27.6 MPG
- The Blue Zone’s projected stat line: 12.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 29.3 MPG
Season breakdown: After sealing an iconic overtime victory against the Tar Heels last season with a picturesque putback buzzer-beater and being selected second-team Preseason All-ACC, Wendell Moore Jr. was projected to break out this year given his NBA-level length and athleticism. However, the versatile forward was met with early criticism from Duke fans for his inconsistent shooting and questionable shot selections: he had missed 20 of his previous 21 shots before facing off against Boston College in January. Despite the rocky start to the season, the Charlotte, N.C., native became an integral factor in Duke’s offense as the season progressed, putting up one of his best games against Notre Dame with a double-double in February.
Against the Fighting Irish, Moore was able to put up 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, of which two of five came from the 3-point line. A career 82.3% free throw shooter, he was able to knock down all four of his free throws at Cameron Indoor Stadium despite the narrow loss. Moore was able to put up similar stats against Boston College in January and Georgia Tech in March, with 25 and 20 points on 8-of-13 and 9-of-19 shooting, respectively. In total, Moore was able to score double digits in 10 of the games this season.
But Moore is “Moore” than just a slashing forward. On the defensive end, Moore was able to lock down the one, two, three and four positions with his long wingspan, showing off his versatility against the three aforementioned teams. In both the matchups against the Eagles and the Yellow Jackets, he was able to put up four steals in each game, and against Notre Dame, Moore delivered one of his five blocks this season.
While Moore did have a lot of key moments for the Blue Devils, he also had his fair share of costly mistakes. For instance, against North Carolina in February, Moore committed a travel while driving to the basket with 10 seconds left in a two-point game, solidifying the win for the Tar Heels. In more recent events, the forward had turnover troubles, averaging 4.5 turnovers in Duke's two ACC-tournament games.
Overall, Moore was a huge asset to the team this season despite his inconsistency. When he went cold, the sophomore seemed to fade into the background of many plays, but once he lit up, Moore made headlines for the Blue Devils and proved his doubters wrong.
Results relative to expectations: Compared to last year’s 7.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game, Moore definitely improved his play and came very close to what the Blue Zone predicted before the season. He continued to show the potential of his high basketball IQ on defense as a perimeter defender and flashed glimpses of his ability to run the offense as a playmaker a couple of times, especially against Virginia when he put up a career-high seven assists. Even in areas such as rebounding where he was already solid, Moore found room to improve, becoming second on the team in rebounds in ACC play.
Yet many questions still remain unanswered for Moore. Will he be able to develop a consistent mid-range jumper? Can he become a better decision-maker with the ball and commit fewer turnovers? Will his 3-pointer become more reliable for the team going forward? The 6-foot-5 stretch forward will undoubtedly look to come up with these answers next season.
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