That time is upon us: The Champions’ Classis starts in just 4 days! It feels good having (college( basketball back, but it’s coming back with a bang this year as the Champions’ Classic will indeed be on the first day of the season. Duke’s young talent is set to take on Kentucky’s team, but they look a bit different than usual: In general, Coach Cal teams are young and inexperienced and have often struggled at the beginning of the year, minus 2015 (there’s no doubt that team was good from the start). But this year is different. This year, it’s not as much recruits (we got that one locked up) as it is transfers. Yes, they’re more seasoned in college play, but they have as little experience together as our guys do (they also went on a preseason trip), so I’d say it’s pretty evenly matched considering our talent level.
By deciding to transfer to Kentucky, Reid Travis changed everything in the college basketball world. Some may say it had the gravity, with less publicity, of Marvin Bagley III’s decision to come to Duke in August 2017. Regardless, this Stanford graduate transfer is supposed to be the guy: the guy who ends the UK drought of a veteran who can lead the team to victory. Remember, he has no more experience playing with his team of young guys than Javin DeLaurier and Jack White, Duke captains, do, and he does have to adjust to a new system, so I’m not completely convinced, but it’s quite obvious the major effect he will have on Kentucky’s season.
A Sea of Blue said this: “Maybe above all, do not let [Zion Williamson] get any highlight dunks, which could result in a momentum shift in the Blue Devils[‘] favor.” Very true. While Zion Williamson is a lot more than a highlight reel, he has a lot of those. And rims. He probably owns a lot of rims by now. Zion’s dunks provide more than a SportsCenter highlight for us: they provide energy. There’s nothing like seeing him annihilate the basket, and it instantly adds energy like I’ve never seen before.
Javin DeLaurier and Jack White
Our two captains may not be on the cover of SportsIllustrated or the high-point scorers in every game, but they provide vocal leadership for our young team that we will come to benefit from. Antonio Vrankovic and Marques Bolden need to develop some more, but they also provide some helpful pilotage down low.
Cam Reddish and Tre Jones
These two guys may have been absent in the Canada tour, but they’ve provided two excellent assets that this team will surely need: Tre Jones is an excellent on-ball defender with amazing pressure, and Cam Reddish has an awesome shot that people forget about when they say we don’t have shooting presence.
Duke. Kentucky. Going to be a heck of a night. Bleed blue.