Friar Basketball

David Duke is Becoming a Star Before Our Eyes

David Duke at Seton Hall

I can still remember pinpointing Kris Dunn’s star turn.

In hindsight, we forget that Dunn seemed anything but a sure thing after having nearly all of his first two seasons at Providence wiped away due to injury. There were flashes during his abbreviated freshman campaign, but he hadn’t been handed the reigns that year. Senior Vincent Council was the team’s point guard, and Dunn missed all of the offseason and the first six weeks of the regular season following shoulder surgery. Dunn’s sophomore season lasted a handful of games before he underwent another shoulder surgery and missed the remainder of that year.

The first six games of Dunn’s junior season were a mixed bag — two points and two assists in the opener versus Albany mixed in with 14 assists against Navy, a promising 15/9 outing when matched up with a good Florida State team, 6/5/4 versus Notre Dame a day later, and then an ugly 10 turnover afternoon when playing through an ankle injury at Kentucky.

By December everything started coming together for Dunn. He was the best Friar on the floor in a loss at Boston College (24 points, 10-13 shooting, 6 assists, 4 steals), and was simply too much for URI five days later (22 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, and a block).

When UMass came to the Dunk a little over a week later, Dunn put on a clinic in a blowout victory. It wasn’t just the 16 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, and five steals he put up, but it was the ease in which he did it that day. He was in complete control of the game on both ends of the floor.

Two nights later, Dunn put on a 15 point, 13 assist, five rebound, three steal show on a national stage against Miami at the Barclays Center and a star was born.

Dunn played a different speed than anyone else during the UMass game, and carried that over for the rest of the season.

In watching David Duke get whatever he wanted against Butler on Wednesday, it felt like a similar moment. Duke has shined through virtually all of Providence’s first ten games this season, and that includes back-to-back 28 point outings against Fairleigh Dickinson and TCU, an 18 point/10 rebound effort at Seton Hall, 17/8/5 in a loss at Butler, and 24 points, six rebounds and five assists versus DePaul on Sunday.

Still, the ease with which Duke carved throughout Butler was reminiscent of Dunn’s breakout. Duke just played at his own place against a typically stubborn Butler defense. He made nine of 11 shots, and did it in all sorts of ways — step back 3-pointers, finishing layups while being fouled, hook shots out of the post, and blurring by the opposition in transition. That Duke added 13 rebounds and eight assists on such an efficient scoring night is a sign of how far is overall game has come.

Duke is averaging a shade under 20 points a game (19.9), shooting over 40% from 3-point range (40.9), better than 83% at the free throw line, and adding 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists for good measure. Even with those numbers, Duke still seems to be ascending.

In Big East games, Duke is averaging 20.3 points, nine boards, and 5.5 assists per game.

On Wednesday, there was simply no match for Duke either physically, or for an advanced skill set that has him getting to whatever spot he wants to on the floor and generally making the game look easy. Once the game slows down to the extent that it has for Duke, you have a star on your hands.

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