The Duke Blue Devils dominate College basketball year to year. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has created a program that is known for titles and first draft talent. This year presented fans with a special Duke team that was deemed champions when the season began. The 2018-2019 Duke men’s basketball was special, but they will not be champions.
After close games in the two rounds before, Michigan State took down the rock star Blue Devils 68-67. The big name Devils fell one points short of the final four. Duke’s loss dominated the headlines just as they had the entire year. Duke had three stars with their own unique stories that made it seem they just couldn’t lose.
Zion Williamson—Zion was not supposed to be the one stealing the show this season, but he did. Williamson went viral in his junior and senior year of high school with high flying dunk videos. Zion kept pace with he impressive dunks and became a dominant force that captured the country. Zion entered a four star recruit out of Spartan Burg, South Carolina. The world soon found that Zion is an absolute tank, Williamson dominated the paint and college basketball at six foot seven 285 pounds. Williamson hype and stardom can be shown through the Mid season incident when he tore through his Nike shoes injuring his knee. Nike’s stock dropped, and the world debated if Zion should sit out and wait for the NBA. Zion returned and racked up highlight plays in big games to finish off a season that improved his draft stock drastically. Williamson finished averaging 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds (ESPN.com). Zion was named to AP All American first team and is predicted to go number one in the NBA draft.
R.J. Barret—Barret was #1 on ESPN’s top 100 high school basketball recruits. Barrett grew up in the North Carolina area, making his decision to attend Duke sensible. Barrett attended Monte Verde Academy in Florida for high school. This school easily put the spotlight on Barrett as the school has produced other stars such as D’Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons. Barrett comes from basketball royalty as his father played Canadian basketball with Steve Nash who eventually became R.J.’s godfather. The Canadian roots and Kobe Bryant like play earned Barrett the nickname “Maple Mamba”. Barrett finished the season averaging 22.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists (ESPN.com). The six foot seven freshman was named to the AP all American first team and is predicted to go third in the NBA draft.
Cam Reddish—Reddish is the best shooter out of this group. Reddish originates from PA and came to Duke after himself, Zion and Barrett played AAU summer basketball together and agreed they could do something special at Duke. After Barrett entered a star and Zion became one, Reddish took a slight back seat this season. Reddish took be the number three well and had big shooting games, doing what Duke needed him to. Reddish finished averaging 13.5 points per game and highlighted the year with a game winning three against Florida State (ESPN.com). Reddish is currently predicted to go somewhere in the top ten in the NBA draft.
The three stars built something special, just as they planned. Barret, Williamson, and Reddish played AAU ball this past summer and devised a plan to form something special at Duke. Now the tournament loss means an uncertain for these three, but Duke truly had something special all year long.