The spectacle that happened last night was more than just beginners’ luck. Duke has another star-studded rookie roster. In another blue vs blue matchup, this didn’t seem like a #4 seed playing a #2 seed, it was more a varsity vs college practice. The score shows this skill level difference more than anything, 118-84. Although Kentucky started strong, they quickly mentally and physically fizzled out against Duke, who lead by as much as 21 points in the first half and reached a 37-point lead in the second. What does this mean? NBA teams should start tanking… now.
As everyone predicted, Zion Williamson is no joke. If he even just plateaus at this level this season, he’ll own the NCAA. He was almost flawless, shooting down 11 of 13 shot attempts, making 7 rebounds and sinking his only three-point attempt; he put 28 points up on the board last night, and wasn’t even the best player this game.
If you haven’t heard of the Duke trio yet, get ready for college basketball fans to gnaw your ears off until March. We all know how annoying Duke fans can be, but lean in and listen to them, the hype for this group is already extremely well deserved because Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cameron Reddish are the “Big 3” of coach’s dreams.
The perfect complement to Williamson’s dunking and explosiveness, is Canadian Guard Barrett. His 6’7 lanky form is more impressive then it is raw athleticism, and its exactly what NBA teams’ lust after (Prozingis is this for the Knicks). The hype over him is suitably matched with results, racking up 33 points against Kentucky (the highest of the “Big 3”). Barrett also connected 3 for 7 threes, was 50% (4-8) on his foul shots and found mind-boggling routes to get to the rim. The persistent way he consistently gets into the paint may be his greatest strength, and his ability to finish lifts him to another level.
The last of the Big 3 is Cameron Reddish. A small forward who was injured much of the pre-season, although he played in mid-season form last night. ended up being a pleasant addition to Barret and Williamson, scoring 22 points and being a game maker with three-pointers and vital steals in the game. He’s the dependent third Williamson and Barrett need. He’s been the least talked about player of the Big 3, maybe because we know less about his ability, maybe because 22 points seems measly between the other two. However, he’s a dark horse that plays with grit and has the most to prove, which is something Coach K loves to see in his young players.
If you haven’t been keeping tabs on these guys and college ball, start. If you’ve been reading this article and haven’t been adding up points, listen: the “Big 3” by themselves scored 83 points last night; one-point shy of the whole Kentucky team score. If you don’t feel old today, these astounding freshman players were all born in 2000.
Let the countdown to March begin.
Photo credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports