Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK – The willingness of longtime Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to adapt to college basketball’s one-and-done culture is well-documented.
He won a national championship in April with Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Junes and Justise Winslow leading the way before all three became first-round NBA draft picks in June. Next year’s freshman class will include Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NBA Draft according to DraftExpress.
In between those two recruiting classes, there is the latest projected Coach K one-and-done, Brandon Ingram, the headliner of Krzyzewski’s current freshman class that includes three other five-star prospects, Derryck Thornton, Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter.
Ingram, a long, bouncy 6-foot-9 wing who has occasionally brought the ball up in Duke’s offense, is the projected No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. With that comes expectations for his play, and at least early this season, it seems it will take some patience to get Ingram going.
Coming off the bench on Sunday for the first time, he scored just five points on 2-for-7 shooting in 16 minutes of the Blue Devils’ 86-84 win over Georgetown in the 2K Classic championship game at Madison Square Garden.
“In a couple of years, if he can do what he did in high school, which remains to be seen, preseason picks and ratings are not worth the paper they are printed on,” one NBA scout told SNY.tv. “He is on the biggest stage in college ball, so if he performs at the highest level consistently, he will move up the draft charts. Right now, he is just learning the college game.
“He has to adjust to playing with big, strong boys before he looks at the men’s league. Remember, NBA stands for ‘No Babies Allowed.'”
Over Duke’s last three games against Kentucky, VCU and the Hoyas, Ingram has just 17 total points on 5-for-18 shooting. Those numbers came after torching Siena and Bryant for a combined 36 points in Duke’s first two games.
“I think people knew coming in that this would be a long-term thing and it was kind of expected that he would have up-and-down performances,” Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told SNY.tv. “We’ve seen the talent in small glimpses, but he has also showed you probably can’t expect to draft him (in 2016) and have him be a go-to guy right away.
“From a physical standpoint, he needs to add strength to really reach his full potential. In the end, he is clearly a very talented guy.”
The NBA Draft often works off potential and the long-range view of what a prospect can give a franchise, maybe not right away, but a few years down the road. Furthermore, it should be noted that of the 10 highest-slotted American-born prospects in the 2016 draft by DraftExpress, Ingram is the youngest at 18 years, 2 months.
“Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense,” a second NBA scout told SNY.tv. “He is active on offense, but not finishing. His length is his best asset, and it might just be a confidence thing on offense. He’ll be fine after a few more games.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.