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The 2018-2019 Duke Blue Devils basketball season is underway as they took on the second ranked Kentucky Wildcats in the Champions Classic. There has been a lot of hype for the Blue Devils this season, especially surrounding the top ranked incoming freshman class that has four top 20 recruits, including the top 3 overall. The most hype and excitement was for Zion Williamson who is well known for his dunking abilities. Let's just say that Zion as well as the entire Duke Blue Devils team did not disappoint. Here are my top 3 takeaways from this opening game:
1. The Duke freshman are as advertised!
To say R. J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones played outstanding would be an understatement. These four combined for 89 points, 17 rebounds, and 18 assists. Tre Jones led Duke in assists having 7 of them as he is set to be a true point guard for Coach K's squad. In my opinion, I did not see a real weakness among these four guys. They played good defense, they will be a terror for opponents in transition this year, they spread the floor well and make shots in the half court including the 3-ball by all of them, and rebounded strongly. Barrett and Williamson both broke the Duke record for most points in a debut which was previously held by Marvin Bagley III (25). If these four keep this up, I could see them going down as one of the best freshman classes to ever play college basketball.
2. Zion Williamson is more than just a guy who dunks a basketball amazingly.
As I said earlier, he is mainly known for his dunking ability as he has 1.8 million Instagram followers at the time of writing this. It was made a point in the pregame to make it known this kid is far more than just a dunking phenom. After watching Zion in this game, he seems to have all the tools needed to be a great basketball player. Coach K was on record saying earlier this preseason that Williamson is surprisingly graceful for his size, which is massive as he stands at a freakish 6'7" 285 pounds of solid muscle. Zion definitely showed his gracefulness at times tonight. Early in the game, Zion made his first 3-point attempt. If he can manage to make a few of those here and there to keep the defense honest, he will be nearly impossible to guard. On top of all that, Williamson rebounded well, played good defense, and obviously ran the floor well as he had a fast break two handed jam in the first half. This kid will be exciting to watch this year.
3. The Duke Blue Devils look strong in every aspect.
Coach K has an extremely talented team, as usual. Tonight, boy did they show it as they completely dominated the seconnd ranked Kentucky Wildcats. There doesn't seem to be a weakness with this team. They defend well, shoot the deep ball well, rebound well, have solid post play with guys that can step out and make 3's to stretch the floor, and maybe their biggest threat is how well they get in transition to create fast break points. I've already touched on the freshman but if you have to find a weakness with this team it may be the depth. Duke is only returning 14 percent of their points from last year. They will need guys like DeLaurier, Bolden, O'Connell, and White to contribute. Which they did tonight. Yes, I know, it's only one game but this team looks unstoppable. Every top tier team in college basketball this season will have nights where they just do not show up, as it is every season. But this Duke team certainly looks talented enough to win some of those nights in spite of not showing up to play.
Again, this is only the first of many games to come this season and it's not realistic for anyone to expect Duke to perform at this level every night. But, at the same time, they left everyone astonished tonight as no one could see this type of dominance coming. This will be an extremely fun team to watch, possibly the best we will see at the college level for a while to come, so let's sit back and enjoy the show!