Duke men's basketball 2023-24 player preview: Neal Begovich

Graduate transfer Neal Begovich comes to Duke from Stanford.
Graduate transfer Neal Begovich comes to Duke from Stanford.

As the beginning of basketball season is near, the Blue Zone provides a detailed preview of each player on Duke men's basketball's 2023-24 roster. We've already looked at Stanley Borden and Spencer Hubbard. Up next is graduate transfer forward Neal Begovich: 

Neal Begovich

Year: Graduate student

Height: 6-foot-9

Position: Forward

Last year’s stat line: 0.9 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.3 APG, 3.5 MPG (Stanford)

Game breakdown: Welcome to Durham, Neal Begovich. The 6-foot-9 graduate transfer forward comes to Duke from Stanford, where his role was largely off the court as a mentor for a team that struggled to compete in a tough PAC-12. Begovich arrived as a Cardinal as an unranked, but well-regarded, recruit coming out of San Francisco. With Stanford last season, he appeared in eight games, including two starts, where he scored seven points and tallied nine rebounds. 

Begovich is far from a pure scorer; after all, the graduate student has made just one three in his career. Begovich’s game revolves around being a steady veteran presence on the floor, finding the right pass, playing defense and making smart decisions. At 6-foot-9, Begovich is a lengthy defender who has the footwork and athleticism to guard opposing teams’ wings. 

Role on the team: On this Blue Devil team, Begovich will not be expected to make much of an impact on the court. He will play behind the likes of sophomore Mark Mitchell and freshmen Sean Stewart and TJ Power, meaning tragedy would have to strike for Begovich to be a role player on the squad. Nonetheless, Duke brings four freshmen into its locker room, and Begovich must be a mentor. 

The San Francisco native will step into the role previously filled by Princeton transfer Max Johns and Harvard transfer Kale Catchings: a leader, a teammate and, most importantly, a GPA-boost. While neither Johns nor Catchings had a significant impact on the court, the young team felt his leadership presence. If Begovich could emulate the two, his time in Duke blue will be well-served.

NBA player comparison: Make no mistake about it, Begovich will not have as much of an impact on this Duke roster that NBA veteran Jeff Green had on many of his; however, there are a lot of similarities between the two. Like Begovich, Green is a serviceable shooter, but it is not a strength: last year, the 37-year-old shot 28.8% from distance. Now, Green serves as a leader on a young Houston Rockets team that will be fighting for a postseason spot. Similar to the current Rocket, Begovich will primarily play a leadership role on a team with multiple potential freshman contributors. 

Projected stats: 2 MPG, 0.1 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.2 APG


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