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, Jaden Schutt, Jacob Grandison, Ryan Young, Mark Mitchell, Dariq Whitehead, Tyrese Proctor, Dereck Lively II and Kyle Filipowski. Last up is Jeremy Roach:
This year’s stat line: 13.6 PPG, 3.1 APG, 33.2 MPG
The Blue Zone’s projected stats: 33.0 MPG, 10.5 PPG, 4.7 APG
Season breakdown: A lot of things were new for Duke this year — a new head coach, a new catalog of freshmen and a new class of Cameron Crazies. However, there was no novelty in the return of Jeremy Roach, who rejoined the Blue Devils for his third year after a breakout postseason run in the 2022 NCAA tournament.
The junior took on the role of team captain in stellar form, adapting to a whole new cast of characters with apparent ease and comfort. The fierce competitor he grew to be last spring became his permanent standard of play as he adjusted to starting at point guard, quickly taking command of the court. His first game of the season featured a standout 16 points, six rebounds and four assists against Jacksonville, giving fans a taste of the lofty numbers he promised to put up for every game on the schedule. The Leesburg, Va., native did not disappoint — he played more cumulative minutes than any of his teammates and used that time well, ending up second on the team in overall points, 3-pointers, assists and steals per game. In other words, Roach was all over the place, banking points as often as possible while also making it easy for his teammates to do the same. In the 32 games he played this season — a shortened list, courtesy of a toe injury — Duke’s team captain passed 99 assists in a testament to his mindset as a one-for-all player.
Entering the postseason, Roach geared up to lead a freshman-heavy squad as one of the only veterans on the roster. He did so with incredible efficiency, acting as the engine that propelled the Blue Devils to the ACC title game and, subsequently, to victory. In that showdown against Virginia with a trophy on the line, the junior guard tallied a season-high 23 points, more than a third of the team’s total 59 on the scoreboard. A few days later, he did it again, matching his points and throwing three assists into the mix to spur Duke in its knockout defeat of No. 12-seed Oral Roberts in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Results relative to expectations: In terms of importance, Roach pretty much fulfilled the goals set for him by the Blue Devil faithful. He carried his captainship humbly, but with perfect competence; the junior controlled the ball expertly, displayed tireless effort and executed plenty of his classic drives to the basket. What was more unexpected, however, was where the season positioned the veteran with regard to the court. As freshman guard Tyrese Proctor proved himself at the point, Roach moved over and tried his hand in a scoring role. That shift in position turned out to be the missing piece for Duke and exactly what Roach needed to surpass the expectations laid out for him. As it turns out, the Virginian really knows how to flick his wrist.
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Sophie Levenson is a Trinity first-year and sports features editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.