As November nears, 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. Next up is junior walk-on Keenan Worthington. Read the previous previews here: Stanley Borden and Spencer Hubbard.
Last year’s statline: 1.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 2.5 MPG
Game breakdown: Despite having played in only two games in his Duke career, both of which were last season, Worthington has still played more minutes for the Blue Devils than nine members of this season’s roster. The Chapel Hill, N.C., native rode the bench for the entire 2019-20 season before appearing in his first collegiate game on the road in his hometown against rival North Carolina. He entered the game with 40.8 seconds, only to touch the ball as time expired. He got his next shot in Duke’s blowout win against Boston College in the ACC tournament, where he collected three points and two rebounds in four minutes of action.
Worthington, a 224-pound power forward, has a solid inside-out game, however, and does not shy away from contact down low. He can shoot it from outside, but given limited playing time, we have yet to see and are unlikely to see a Worthington jump shot unless Duke opens up a massive lead with the clock ticking down. In his brief playing time last season, he demonstrated a solid use of his large frame to cut off guards driving toward the rim, and he has the overall size and power to nab offensive rebounds as he exemplified in his short stint on the floor in Greensboro.
Role on the team: With a completely revamped frontcourt after the departures of Jalen Johnson, Henry Coleman and Matthew Hurt along with the additions of Paolo Banchero, Theo John and Bates Jones, finding playing time for Worthington will be quite a struggle over the course of the season. Featuring Banchero and sophomore Mark Williams, head coach Mike Krzyzewski owns a deep frontcourt with tons of potential, and Worthington may again only see time in non-conference blowouts as the junior falls one year short of potentially seeing playing time on Senior Night.
He does have two years of experience in the practice gym and is sure to continue to develop his own skillset along with those of younger players. Regardless of how often he takes the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium, he will take advantage of every minute by staying aggressive on the glass and containing opposing offenses in the paint. On the bench, he will be there to help energize the crowd, anxious to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019 in Coach K’s final season.
NBA Comparison: Nemanja Bjelica
Due to their similar height, weight and playing style, Bjelica serves as a decent reflection of what Worthington has to bring to the table. As role players at best, both players show the same propensity to crash the glass and lean away from taking too many shots but can also hit the three-ball if left open. Though highly unlikely Worthington has the same career path as the Serbian six-year NBA veteran, he can contribute when asked and may have a decent game to boot.
Projected stat line: 0.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 2.0 MPG
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Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity senior and was previously a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.