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Jordan Goldwire: The Unexpected Leader

By: Ethan Hyman

Pre-Duke

Jordan Goldwire has been one of the most fascinating stories at Duke in recent memory. Coming out of Norcross, GA, he was the 398th ranked prospect in the 2017 class, via 247 Sports. Goldwire was the lowest-ranked recruit in Duke’s 2017 class, following behind Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Trevon Duval, Gary Trent, Alex O’Connell & Jordan Tucker.

Coming into Duke, many people thought of Goldwire as a role player at best, mainly a practice body. To say he exceeded those expectations is an understatement. 

Before Duke entered the mix, Goldwire held only 5 offers from Hofstra, Coastal Carolina, UNLV, Eastern Kentucky, and Towson. Fortunately, he matched up with Trevon Duval in an AAU game when Duke was there to watch for Duval. He made a big enough impression to catch Duke’s eye, leading to an eventual offer and commitment. 

Freshman Season

In his freshman season, Goldwire only logged 169 minutes, equaling 6.5 per game. He made a total of 9 shots in the whole season, shooting 32% from the field. He shot an abysmal 26% from 3, converting on 5 of 19 attempts, meaning he only made 4 shots inside the arc the whole season. It was looking very evident early on that Goldwire was indeed just going to be a role player at best, maybe even sticking to his “practice body” label. 

Sophomore Season

Things were different his sophomore season. He started to gain more trust, leading to more minutes. He became a defensive leader, upping his MPG to 8.6 tallying a total of 301 minutes on the season. Everyone remembers the famous comeback at Louisville for obvious reasons, but Goldwire played a huge part in that comeback.

That was the only game in February that he played double-digit minutes, tallying 12. In those 12 minutes, he had 2 steals, constant ball pressure, active hands, and heading the press alongside Tre Jones. 

Junior Season

Then came Jordan’s junior season. It was easily the most productive and developmental season he has put together at Duke. Like his first two seasons, he wasn’t a stat sheet stuffer, but he impacted the game in numerous ways that only real basketball watchers picked up on.

Goldwire played 30+ minutes a total of 11 times. He only logged less than 10 twice: 8 in the loss vs SFA and 5 vs Georgetown. Goldwire clearly knew his role on the team. He never shot more than 9 times in a game and only turned the ball over more than 3 times. 

If there is one thing that the majority of Duke fans took away from Jordan’s junior year, it was his relentless and tenacious defense. Jordan was constantly hounding the opposing team’s ball-handler unless Tre Jones was manning that responsibility. Goldwire and Jones were arguably the best defensive backcourt in the country this past season.

Goldwire logged at least one steal in 24 of Duke’s 31 games. He had 2 or more in 14 of them. He even grabbed 5 in just 19 minutes vs Winthrop. Goldwire finished the season 10th in total steals in the ACC with 46, and 5th in the ACC with a 3.4 STL%.

His offensive game also took a pretty large leap, especially in the shooting department. In his first two seasons, Goldwire shot a combined 19.2% from 3 on just under one attempt a game. However, that number rose up to 35.5% from 3 on 1.5 attempts a game in his junior season. He also shot a career-high 49% from the field on nearly four times the attempts as his first two seasons. 

Recap + Senior Preview

Like I’ve been saying, Goldwire’s numbers won’t ever jump out at you. But, his impact goes far greater than his stat sheet will ever display. He won’t be the guy that goes for 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. But, he is the guy that will put up 8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and an ungodly amount of  defensive pressure. Also, the occasional jumping along with teeamates on their fastbreak dunks.

Those are the type of guys each championship team needs. A glue guy, scrapper, grifter, or anything else you want to anoint Goldwire with. And now with the possibility of a 5th year, after the voting to grant NCAA winter athletes with an extra year of eligibility, we may see a version of Jordan Goldwire I’m not sure he even envisioned. 

Three years ago, if you told Duke fans that Jordan Goldwire would arguably be the most important player in his senior season, most would completely write it off. Now, Goldwire is set up to be the senior captain on one of Mike Krzyzewski’s deepest teams in recent memory.

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