Today we will go over all the one and done since 2015, ranking them in order of how their freshman season went. There have been 16 one and done players for Duke since 2015, and down below I will be ranking them all.
#16 – Harry Giles (2016-17)
Harry Giles, probably one of the best high schoolers, never was the same following his injuries. He was considered the top prospect in a class full of guys like Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox, and more.
Giles missed the beginning part of the season, along with Tatum and Bolden. He ended up only playing in 26 games, starting in just 6 of them. Giles averaged a mere 3.9 PPG and 3.8 RPG. He only played above 20 minutes once. We never saw Harry Giles, the superstar, at Duke as we saw in high school.
#15 – Frank Jackson (2016-17)
Frank Jackson, a part of the monster 2016 Duke class, never got completely comfortable in his role at Duke. Jackson came out of HS as a point guard, only to have Grayson Allen manning the majority of the point guard duties at Duke.
Jackson showed flashes here and there, but could never string together a consistent couple month or two. I believe it was a somewhat big mistake that Coach K did not give him the keys from the jump, and let him control most of the point guard duties.
#14 – Trevon Duval (2017-18)
Trevon Duval was far from a fan favorite while in Durham. However, I think he has been severely underrated. Duval’s freshman season stats are a lot better than one would think, and it almost exactly mirrors Tre Jones’ freshman season stat line.
Duval put up 10.3 PPG / 5.6 APG / 1.5 SPG in his freshman campaign. He started to take off in the NCAA Tournament, having arguably his best game against Kansas in the Elite Eight.
#13 – Cam Reddish (2018-19)
One could argue Cam Reddish has the highest ceiling of anyone on this list. He has all the tools, except one: consistency. It was his biggest flaw at Duke. There were games where the #3 ranking out of high school looked right, and other games where you would forget Cam Reddish was out there.
News broke after the season that Reddish was battling injuries, and needed surgery in the offseason before the NBA Draft. Also, I don’t think it was easy playing beside RJ and Zion. Reddish was very inefficient during his freshman season, shooting 35% from the field.
#12 – Cassius Stanley (2019-20)
Cassius Stanley is a world-class athlete, giving Zion a run for his money when it came to high-flying dunks. Stanley out-performed his expectations at Duke. He averaged 12.6 PPG / 4.9 RPG / 47 FG%.
Stanley came into Duke ranked the #37 prospect in the 2019 class, making him the lowest rated player on this list. It was impressive how much he surprised people, and how much better his jump shot was than in high school. Unfortunately, we never got to see the end of his freshman season, never giving us the proper conclusion.
#11 – Justise Winslow (2014-15)
Justise Winslow was easily one of the best defensive players in recent Duke history. Winslow averaged 12.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG on 48% shooting from the field. He also averaged 1.3 SPG and 1 BPG, while jumping over guys when blocking shots.
The clutch gene was also a part of Winslow’s arsenal, coming up big against Gonzaga and Utah in the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, winning the 2015 National Championship was the highlight of his freshman campaign.
#10 – Gary Trent Jr. (2017-18)
Let me read you off Trent’s stats as a fourth option: 14.5 PPG / 4.2 RPG / 1.2 SPG while shooting 40% from 3 on seven attempts per game. Trent, alongside Carter and Bagley, still managed to get his, and then some.
Time after time, Trent came up clutch, especially against Florida with his late game steal and free throws to seal the game. Another clutch outing was against Miami, when he dropped a career 30 points to lead Duke to their comeback.
#9 – Vernon Carey Jr. (2019-20)
Vernon Carey Jr., AKA Tank, was exactly that in his freshman season. Carey dominated his way to 17.8 PPG and 8.8 RPG on 58% from the field. The biggest knock on Carey was his defense. Carey would often get lost in PnR’s, and was too slow laterally to make up for it.
However, Carey’s awards speak for themselves: ACC Rookie of the Year, All-ACC Freshman Team, ACC 1st-Team and 2nd Team All-American.
#8 – Wendell Carter Jr. (2017-18)
Wendell Carter Jr., one of my favorite players ever, comes in at #8 strictly because of the great players ahead of him. It is certainly not a knock to put him at #8, but the guys in front of him had better freshman seasons. Still, Carter put 13.5 PPG / 9.1 RPG / 2.1 BPG on 56% from the field. Not to mention he also shot 41% from 3 on 1.5 attempts per game.
Unfortunately for him, he played on one of the most ball dominant teams featuring Grayson Allen, Gary Trent, Marvin Bagley and Trevon Duval. If Carter played a Carey role, then I think we have him way higher on this list.
#7 – Jayson Tatum (2016-17)
Seven may seem too low for Jayson Tatum, but do not be fooled by his recent ascension to stardom in the NBA. At Duke, he missed the first month and a half, and had a slower start to his freshman seasons than the guys above him.
It wasn’t until the ACC Tournament when Tatum really turned it on and dominated. All year long it was Luke Kennard’s team. Still, Tatum’s stat line was routinely stuffed. On the year, he averaged 16.8 PPG / 7.2 RPG . 2.1 APG / 1.3 SPG / 1.1 BPG on 45% from the field.
#6 – Brandon Ingram (2015-16)
Like Jayson Tatum, Ingram got out to a somewhat slow start to his freshman season. In Ingram’s first 7 games, he only hit double figures three times. In the 8th game of the season vs Indiana, he put up 24 points, 6 rebounds on 4-6 3P, 10-15 FG.
After that game, Ingram only had one game where he failed to hit double figures. Ingram was named to All-ACC 2nd Team, Freshman Team & ACC Rookie of the Year.
#5 – Tyus Jones (2014-15)
Tyus Jones: wore number 5, won Duke’s 5th National Championship. It seems fitting to have him come in at #5. His stat line does not do him justice in how clutch he was time after time. For the year, Jones averaged 11.8 / 5.6 APG / 3.5 RPG / 1.5 SPG on 38% shooting from three.
However, the things that stand out the most when Tyus Jones is brought up is his clutch gene. His shot at UVA, leading the comeback vs UNC and closing out Wisconsin in the 2015 National Championship are the main moments that stand out to me when I think of Tyus Jones. Tyus Jones ended his Duke career with a Final Four Most Outstanding Player award; the only guy on this list to do so.
#4 – Jahlil Okafor (2014-15)
Jahlil Okafor was the most polished big man when it came to scoring in the paint of the last 5 years. He averaged 17.3 PPG / 8.5 RPG on 66% shooting from the field. There was not a single guy who could guard Okafor in college without having help.
Okafor’s trophy case is stock to the brim. He was ACC 1st-Team, All-ACC Freshman, ACC Player of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year, USBWA Freshman of the Year & 1st Team All-American. Also, we can’t forget we has a National Champion, alongside Tyus and Justise. That resume speaks for itself.
#3 – Marvin Bagley III (2017-18)
Marvin absolutely dominated in his lone season at Duke. He put 21 PPG / 11.1 RPG / 40 3P% / 61 FG%. Bagley, from the jump, was the most dominant player on the court. He scored 30+ seven times, and only scored in single digits once: when he left early vs MSU. Bagley’s defense was less than ideal, but his offensive firepower made up for that on this list.
Marvin’s awards are impressive to say the least. He was the ACC Player of the Year & Rookie of the Year. Also, he finished on the ACC Freshman Team, ACC 1st-Team & 1st Team All-American. He was the most dominant freshman Duke had ever seen, up until 6 months later.
#2 – RJ Barrett (2018-19)
RJ Barrett, the guy where the fanbase has a million opinions on. Instead of looking at his flaws, I will let his resume speak for itself. Barrett averaged 22.6 PPG / 7.6 RPG / 4.3 APG / 1 SPG on 45% from the field. That is absolutely insane for a freshman, who was supposed to still be a senior in high school.
However, Barrett, in my opinion had the second-best freshman season of anyone in Duke history. RJ finished on the All-ACC Freshman Team, ACC 1st Team & 1st Team All-American. Barrett also took home the Jerry West Award, which is given to the top collegiate shooting guard of that season.
#1 – Zion Williamson (2018-19)
This one was obvious, and if anyone tells you Zion is not the best freshman in Duke history; they are lying to you. Zion put up 22.6 PPG / 8.9 RPG / 2.1 APG / 2.1 SPG / 1.8 BPG on 68% shooting from the field, all while only playing 30 minutes a game. Zion’s trophy case would need its own building.
He was named to the ACC All-Defensive Team, ACC Freshman Team, & ACC 1st Team. He also was the ACC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. Nationally, he was recognized as the AP Player of the Year, NABC Player of the Year, Naismith Award Winner, Sporting News Player of the Year, Karl Malone Award Winner, USBWA Freshman of the Year, USBWA Player of the Year, & Wooden Award Winner.
It is extremely likely that we never see a freshman season like that again. From Duke, or any school for that matter.
Follow me @UpdateDuke on Twitter for more Duke content.