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.
The 2018-19 Duke Blue Devils will be the college version of the Golden State Warriors: AAU coach
By ADAM ZAGORIA
Thanks to an influx of one of the most impressive recruiting hauls in college basketball history, the 2018-19 incarnation of the Duke Blue Devils will be the college version of the NBA’s most exciting team.
“If it can work for the Golden State Warriors, they have four studs, I don’t know why it can’t work for one of the best coaches in the history of basketball at Duke with guys who are wide-eyed and willing to work,” Dwayne Washington, director of the Nike-sponsored UPlay Canada AAU team, said this week on The 4 Quarters Podcast.
Washington coached R.J. Barrett, one of those four studs who will come to Duke next season along with Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones to play for Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The 6-foot-7 Barrett, the 6-6 Williamson and the 6-8 Reddish are the top three players in the Class of 2018, according to ESPN. They are also projected as three of the top four picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, per ESPN.
Expect an army of NBA scouts — and a horde of local and national media — to follow this Duke team around next season.
(For more on how Duke is beating Kentucky at the one-and-done game, read my piece on The Athletic.)
Questions abound about how Barrett, Williamson, Reddish and Jones will all play together, but Washington isn’t concerned and says they all complement each other.
“Think about those four guys and why it works, it’s because they’re all naturally unselfish, and they all have totally distinct skills,” Washington said.
“R.J. can play the 1/2, can guard the 1/2/3. Cam’s an elite shooter, can handle the ball, can play low post. You got Zion who can take it off the dribble, push it up the court. They can play four-out offense. It actually fits because the pieces are like a puzzle. If you take away the rankings and you just look at their games, unselfish, all humble kids, it’s the right pieces. It should not be an issue.
“R.J. is a natural passer, he scores because he has to. That was evident by the [FIBA U19] World Championship last year. He scored but he also he facilitated. So I think it works because of the personalities of the kids and the games of the the kids I think each of them benefits from each other. Cam benefits from R.J. in some cases. R.J. benefits from Jones. And then Zion benefits not being able to get doubled. He can’t be doubled now. None of them can be doubled. So when you’re not being able to be doubled, you’re going to be a problem.
“So all those guys will be the best versions of themselves because you can’t load up on them now. You can’t have three guys guard them, so each night should be a different guy’s game. The model should be Golden State, that’s what I see.”
The Warriors, of course, have won two of the last three NBA championships and are the favorites yet again this year, so Coach K and his staff would probably sign for that comparison.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.