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Duke men's basketball 2021-22 player review: Jeremy Roach

Jeremy Roach scored a season-high of 19 points in Duke's ACC tournament game against Syracuse.
Jeremy Roach scored a season-high of 19 points in Duke's ACC tournament game against Syracuse.

With Duke’s season officially in the books, the Blue Zone breaks down each player's season, including comparisons to their preseason projections. We previously looked at Jaylen Blakes, Bates Jones, Joey Baker, Theo John, Trevor Keels and AJ Griffin. Next up is Jeremy Roach:

Jeremy Roach

Season breakdown: Improving upon his freshman year, Jeremy Roach displayed far more confidence and offensive potential throughout this season. At the start of the 2021-22 campaign, Roach was a part of the starting backcourt with his former St. Paul VI teammate, freshman Trevor Keels. Through his court time, the Leesburg, Va., native proved himself a dynamic driver of the ball, a defensive menace along the perimeter and a playmaker for the Blue Devils. Though Roach only shot 41.0% from the field and 32.2% from above the arc throughout the season, the sophomore guard consistently proved that when his team needed a bucket down the stretch, he could deliver. That was evident in big performances such as Duke’s matchup against Syracuse in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament in which he hit timely threes late in the game to finish with a season-high of 19 points. 

Some of the most memorable moments of Roach’s season came in the contests against Gonzaga, Michigan State and Texas Tech. He may have struggled mightily from the field against Gonzaga, only shooting 3-of-13, but with less than a minute remaining, Roach drove to the basket and drained a game-deciding layup. In the first three rounds of March Madness, he also emerged as a key offensive contributor, averaging 14 points per game. Against Michigan State, Roach showcased incredible quickness on drives to the hoop, and with just over a minute left, gave the Blue Devils a two-possession lead by burying a deep three late in the shot clock. And in the Sweet 16 matchup against Texas Tech, it was clear that Roach was a closer for Duke, scoring three of the last four field goals—a layup, a turnaround jumper and a mid-range pull-up.

Results relative to expectations: Though he didn’t exceed his projections, Roach had an impressive sophomore season—elevating himself in the most important moments of critical games. Though Duke fans saw flashes of Roach’s athleticism last year, the quickness and agility that he displayed in tournament games was a sight to behold. His nimble finishes and ability to create space on jump shots late produced moments that rightfully received lots of attention. His most impressive aspect was the grit and confidence he showed in difficult situations, something that then-Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski cited numerous times in post-game interviews.

Roach’s season was filled with highs and lows. With freshman AJ Griffin’s emergence just before ACC play began and after Keels’ return from an injury sustained during the Blue Devils’ matchup against Florida State, Roach played off the bench for a significant part of the season—leading him to see lower numbers than his starting teammates. However, in his ACC tournament showing against Syracuse, he saw a turning point that would lead him to finish the season with high performances. Though Duke went on to lose in the finals of the tournament to Virginia Tech, Roach’s performance and poise resulted in Krzyzewski inserting him back into the starting lineup for the NCAA tournament. While it is currently unclear whether Roach will return for his junior year under the helm of new head coach Jon Scheyer or declare for the NBA Draft, either avenue would be something for Duke fans to celebrate. 


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