The way things currently stand, there’s no way Duke basketball’s recruiting class is going to match the hype of this season’s Zion Williamson-led one. That’s not surprising, as it would be a nearly impossible feat to accomplish.
Fortunately for the Blue Devils, however, they’ll have at least one member of this year’s freshman class along for the ride next year.
The program confirmed via Twitter on Monday that point guard Tre Jones will indeed return for his sophomore season.
Jones teased the news himself on Instagram in the days leading up to the announcement.
While he wasn’t a member of Duke’s vaunted top three of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, Jones was still a no-doubt blue chip recruit for the team and part of what made the team so special heading into the season.
The younger brother of Tyus Jones, who led Duke’s national championship team in 2015, Rivals ranked Tre as the Class of 2018’s top point guard and the No. 14 overall recruit.
Yahoo Sports’ initial NBA mock draft had Jones being drafted with the last pick of the first round, 30th overall.
Will any other Duke freshmen turn down NBA draft?
While Jones’ return is clearly good news for Duke, he’s still the fourth-biggest domino in the team’s NBA draft decisions. No. 1 is Williamson, who is universally expected to be selected with the top pick of the upcoming draft. No. 2 is Barrett, who is also expected to go in the top 5. Neither player is likely coming back.
The most intriguing decision facing the Blue Devils is Reddish, who was a bit of a disappointment during his freshman year. Billed as a gifted scorer and the best shooter of Duke’s big three, Reddish ended up averaging only 13.5 points per game while shooting just 33.3 percent from 3-point range. Despite those struggles, Yahoo Sports still has Reddish mocked to go sixth overall.
While no decision has been announced from Reddish, he was spotted with agent Rich Paul during Sunday’s Los Angeles Lakers game.
Duke's Cam Reddish is sitting courtside at Staples Center with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports for this Lakers-Jazz game.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 8, 2019
How next year’s Duke team is shaping up
Assuming none of Williamson, Barrett and Reddish turn down the NBA, Jones will be Duke’s top returning scorer and the likely leader for another Blue Devils team featuring a talented freshman class.
Headlining next year’s freshman class is big man Vernon Carey, Rivals’ top overall recruit. Carey will be joined by small forward Wendell Moore, Rivals’ No. 23 recruit, and guard Boogie Ellis, ranked at 42. Duke is also in the mix for No. 7 overall recruit Matthew Hurt, the No. 7 overall recruit.
Also around is Joey Baker, a four-star recruit from last year whose redshirt was burned against Syracuse and appeared in only four games.
While that group doesn’t feature three top-5 NBA draft prospects like this year’s was supposed to, it will still be interesting to see how they mesh with Jones and the rest of Duke’s returning players.
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