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Duke men's basketball 2021-22 player review: Wendell Moore Jr.

Wendell Moore received the Julius Erving Award.
Wendell Moore received the Julius Erving Award.

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, AJ Griffin, Jeremy Roach and Mark Williams. Next up is Wendell Moore Jr.:

Wendell Moore Jr.

  • Year: Junior
  • Height: 6-foot-5
  • Position: Forward
  • This year’s stat line: 13.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.4 APG, 34.0 MPG
  • The Blue Zone’s projected stat line: 12.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 28 MPG

Season breakdown: Among a young team that lacked significant veteran presence,  Moore arose as the Blue Devils’ leader and a primary example of their heart and soul. As a top 30 recruit coming into the program, Moore had yet to live up to his full potential in his first two years. This year was finally his chance to get the keys to lead and leave his mark. He undoubtedly did exactly that, as the Charlotte native had the breakout campaign that many knew he was capable of. Moore increased his averages in every major statistical category—including a near 8% improvement in shooting from the field to 50% and a staggering 11% boost from behind the arc to over 41%. The amount of work he put in during the offseason was noticeable early on, especially when he dropped a 19-point triple-double against Army in Duke’s second matchup of the season.

Moore’s improvement did not just come on the offensive end, where he was Duke’s primary playmaker and second-most efficient wing scorer. He also saw success on the other side of the ball, where he was the Blue Devils’ top defender from the wing and registered the most steals of any player on the roster. In every facet of the game, Moore excelled for the Blue Devils, never missing an outing and leading the team in minutes played with 1,326, the second most of any player in the ACC. Through his big numbers on the hardwood, the junior forward managed to finish his campaign near the top of the conference leaderboard in assists and steals per game. Paired with his leadership, his all-around consistency helped lead Duke to a complete turnaround from its disappointing 2020-21 season to finishing first in the ACC and winning the West Region in the NCAA tournament this year. Moore’s efforts did not go unnoticed, as he was awarded a plethora of hardware, including All-ACC Defensive Team, All-ACC Second Team, All-ACC Tournament First Team and the coveted Julius Erving Award—which is given to the best small forward in the country.

Results relative to expectations: High expectations were placed on Moore at the start of the season to lead Duke back to the top of college basketball, and given his performance this year, it’s no doubt he managed to exceed them. The team dominated the ACC throughout the regular season and the Blue Devils were also one of four teams to punch a ticket to New Orleans to play in the Final Four. Although Duke faced a disappointing end, this season cemented Moore as the powerful co-captain of a successful Blue Devil squad.

Moore took charge with grace and led by example. He quickly dismissed concerns about his shooting abilities and capacity to play at the next level, improving to a potential first-round option in the draft. The junior forward’s emphatic improvement this season put his true potential on display. Now, still 20 years old, just a year older than freshman teammate and potential first-overall pick Paolo Banchero, the NBA is likely to see this award-winning player’s potential at the professional level.


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