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Duke Basketball looks to Jeremy Roach to provide stability for talented newcomers

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Logo: Duke Athletics

Jeremy Roach, literally the last guy standing from last year’s Duke Final Four team, is a junior, an old man by Duke Basketball standards, and honestly, I thought he was the best player on last year’s team – the best college basketball player, anyway.

And yes, I know that makes me an outlier – Roach averaged a modest 8.6 points and 3.2 assists per game in 2021-2022, on a team with four NBA first-round picks, including the overall #1, Paolo Banchero.

I thought Duke was at its best when Roach was at his best. In the 2022 postseason, Roach averaged 13.9 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting (he shot 41.0 percent from the field overall last season).

He’ll be surrounded by a vast wealth of talent again this season. Coach Jon Scheyer, in his first season in the big seat after Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement, added seven freshmen recruits, four of them five-stars, plus four talented grad transfers.

Roach acknowledges that his role this year will be different from what he’s done for the first two Duke teams that he was a part of.

“I knew coming into this year that I was the only returning player who has played big minutes, so Scheyer’s just been harping on me to be the leader, show guys where to be, how to do things around campus, and just different things around the campus that I have to do now that I kind of wasn’t doing before,” Roach said.

Not known for being a vocal leader, Scheyer has been encouraging Roach to step up in that respect, to use his experience to help his teammates grow.

“I think Jeremy’s not a guy that necessarily is going be the loudest on the floor all the time, but he has great experience,” Scheyer said. “He’s been a winner his whole life, so he knows what it takes to win. I would just encourage him to follow his instincts continue to talk continue to lead, not just by example, but continuing to be comfortable using his voice and whatever way that means.”

One of the incoming freshmen, Tyrese Proctor (#27 in the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports), is a point guard who will push Roach for minutes.

Proctor said Roach has been a big help to him, giving him points on and off the court as he acclimates to college and the college game.

“In practice, just telling me what he sees, what other people might see, and just helping me on the court a lot, whether its defense, offense, whatever it is, he’s just always talking and in my ear,” Proctor said.

“Since I’ve got here, he’s just welcomed me with open arms, giving me pointers on what I can do on the court and then off the court, hanging out all the time, whether that’s watching football games or chilling, talking – he’s been there for me since my first day here.”

Make no mistake – Proctor will get some minutes at the one, but Scheyer has made it clear that Roach is his guy at the point.

For Roach, the disappointment of how last season ended – with the Final Four loss to rival North Carolina – is motivation to get back there and have things end differently this time out.

“Definitely brought a lot of confidence in me,” he said of the NCAA Tournament run, in which he averaged 11.8 points and 4.0 assists per game, on 43.8 percent shooting. “Just trying to bring that confidence that I have and kind of instill it into all these other guys just to know what’s to come for the season and what kind of target we are going to have on our back, and to know that we gotta get back to where we were last year.”

Chris Graham

I write books, two on UVA basketball, one on pro wrestling, one on politics, which is getting to be like pro wrestling more and more each day. I've finished three marathons, but my maranthoning days are over. I'm also a progressive who voted for Biden, but we need another Democrat in 2024. (Sorry, Joe, and thanks.) Want to reach me? Try [email protected]