Duke men's basketball 2023-24 player review: Jared McCain

<p>Freshman guard Jared McCain celebrates another make from behind the arc in Duke's victory against James Madison.&nbsp;</p>

Freshman guard Jared McCain celebrates another make from behind the arc in Duke's victory against James Madison. 

As the Blue Devils’ season comes to an end, the Blue Zone is here to break down every player’s performance this year, and compare it to  our preseason predictions. We already looked at TJ Power, Sean Stewart, Jaylen Blakes, Ryan Young, Caleb Foster, Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell. Next up is Jared McCain:

Jared McCain

Year: Freshman

Height: 6-foot-3

Position: Guard

This year’s stat line: 31.6 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.9 APG

The Blue Zone’s projected stat line: 21.8 MPG, 9.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.6 APG

Season breakdown: As the only freshman who consistently found himself in Duke’s starting lineup this season, Jared McCain has been a spotlight player for the Blue Devils. Indeed, his performances have been so incredible that many pundits have called for him to be chosen in the top 15 picks of the NBA Draft.

McCain started the season slowly, only delivering a few points per game and even blanking in the 16 minutes he played against Michigan State. However, as soon as December came around, the Sacramento, Calif., native picked up steam, scoring double-digit points in seven straight games. McCain had his best performance of the season in an explosive contest against Florida State, where he scored a career-high 35 points, tying former star Zion Williamson’s record for most points scored in a single game by a Blue Devil freshman. McCain broke another record in the postseason, as he made eight of his 11 attempts from behind the arc against James Madison, the most 3-pointers a Duke player has ever scored in a tournament contest.

Even as the freshman guard established himself as a regular starter and one of the team's top point-scorers, McCain also cemented his status as a cultural icon off the courts. He has a fanbase of 2.7 million followers on TikTok, and one video of him dancing to Aimee Carty’s “I’m Two Days Into College” went viral online. Moreover, McCain’s habit of painting his nails has also gained significant media attention, as ESPN presenter Jay Bilas was seen painting his own nails during the College Gameday productions before the Blue Devils’ home matchup against North Carolina. As such, the freshman guard has signed a variety of NIL deals, including Crocs, Celsius and nail polish brand Sally Hansen.

Results relative to expectations: McCain saw more game time than expected, even though he was the highest-ranked recruit for Duke this year. That is because the freshman established himself as one of the most reliable scorers for the team, with his 14.3 points per game coming only behind sophomore center Kyle Filipowski. Moreover, his 41.4% clip from behind the arc proved vital to the Blue Devils’ success. He exceeded expectations in a big way this season, and his presence will be sorely missed following his declaration for the 2024 NBA draft.


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