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 captain Wendell Moore Jr. Read the previous previews here: Stanley Borden, Spencer Hubbard, Keenan Worthington, Michael Savarino, Bates Jones, Jaylen Blakes, Theo John, AJ Griffin, Joey Baker, Trevor Keels and Jeremy Roach.
Wendell Moore Jr.
Last year’s statline: 9.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 27.5 MPG
Game breakdown: Newly-appointed captain Wendell Moore Jr. enters his junior season off the back of a disappointing sophomore campaign. Though the team ended last year on a low, missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995 after two crushing losses to rival North Carolina, Moore had a decent season individually, posting a respectable 9.7 points and appearing in all 24 of Duke’s games, including 18 starts.
Perhaps Moore’s greatest strengths are his playmaking ability and knack for scoring points when it’s required of him. Over the last 19 games of his sophomore season, he averaged 11.2 points per game and shot 45.4% from the field, including a monstrous 25-point game in a win over Boston College and a 24-point showing against Notre Dame. Across the 2020-2021 season, he was third on the team in assists with 65 and contributed seven in the program’s most significant win against then-No. 7 Virginia. Moore knows when to show up and turn it up to 11, something that has, on multiple occasions, turned potential Duke losses into wins—just think back to his iconic game-winning basket against North Carolina in February 2020.
Moore is a versatile small forward with the ability to score from any range and to pick off a clever pass. With any luck, head coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils will put that versatility to good use.
Role on the team: A likely starter and program veteran, Moore’s experience and reliability should once again result in a high level of trust from Krzyzewski. Alongside senior and fellow captain Joey Baker, he will surely look to repeat the extensive playing time that saw him become a staple of the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 rosters.
With an embarrassment of riches in young talent on the roster, Moore’s refined gameplay and program experience should slot him in as a starter once again as a necessary foil to the freshmen trio of Paolo Banchero, Trevor Keels and A.J. Griffin. Moore looked stellar, confident and tenacious at Countdown to Craziness as his physicality and athleticism have seemingly improved since last season. He may not post breathtaking numbers or steal the spotlight the same way Zion Williamson or Marvin Bagley III did for Duke, but Moore will quietly and confidently score a substantial amount of points, rack up assists and pester opponents on defense, all while helping Duke’s newcomers settle in.
Every championship-caliber side requires a workhorse and vocal leader. Moore can and should be that character in the Blue Devils’ push for the program's elusive sixth national championship.
NBA comparison: Maybe it’s low-hanging fruit to compare Moore to another Duke player, but there are similarities between the junior captain and Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum. Tatum has often been lauded for his driving ability, outside shooting, offensive awareness and a general tenacity and hunger. His all-around style of play made him the No. 3 overall choice in the 2017 draft and has led him to become one of the NBA’s most dangerous players.
While Moore is not likely to replicate Tatum's game entirely, he only needs to mirror the two-time NBA All-Star's style of play to be a real weapon for Duke this season. Moore already possesses shooting versatility, drives to the rim without fear, works hard on defense—much like Tatum—and should be one of the first names upon which Krzyzewski can rely. It may not be a direct parallel, but many of the better traits you see in one of the NBA’s bonafide stars are certainly present in Moore.
Projected stats: 12.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 28 MPG
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Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.