Tyrese Proctor is finding his feet at Duke
Proctor has bounced back from a slow start, and is filling a key point guard role for the Blue Devils.
After Josh Giddey and Dyson Daniels both made the leap from Canberra’s NBA Global Academy to the NBA draft, Tyrese Proctor projected as the next prospect in line. The 2004-born prospect reclassified from the college recruiting class of 2023, instead joining Duke University one year early, while turning down lucrative offers from the G League’s Ignite program and the NBL’s Next Stars program.
“I had the NBL Next Stars and the G League and some other colleges but to be honest, it just felt like the right thing for me,” Proctor told ESPN, in July 2022.
“Going onto campus and taking a visit at Duke, the community, the environment, it was really professional. I just felt like it was the best fit for me on and off the court, my family really enjoyed it and it felt kind of like a home away from home. Being far from home will be a big move but it felt right.”
With five NCAA championships under their belt, including a most recent title in 2015, there are few schools that can match the history, prestige and recruiting power of Duke University. But Proctor joined the program during a transitional era where legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski announced his retirement, after overseeing Duke basketball for 42 years. Incoming head coach Jon Scheyer had been a part of Krzyzewski’s staff for eight years, but there was still an element of uncertainty around Duke’s future as a powerhouse.
Proctor’s decision to join the storied institution was also a curious one, after Giddey and Daniels achieved much success via the professional route. To his credit, the 18 year old took on the challenge of playing for a competitive school, where progressing in the NCAA tournament is an expectation, and not considered an achievement in itself. This is in stark contrast to three-time NBA All-Star Ben Simmons, who opted for the familiarity of Louisiana State University, a smaller school where he was guaranteed significant playing time and knew then-assistant coach David Patrick on a personal level - Patrick is Simmons’ godfather.
During the preseason, there was a major question mark around Proctor’s playing time. Returning guard Jeremy Roach was expected to run the point, meaning Proctor faced the possibility of coming off the bench, where his minutes would be limited. However, the Aussie was one of Duke’s preseason standouts, impressing NBA scouts and increasing his draft stock before a ball was even bounced. While Proctor is well-known for his mesmerising handles and isolation scoring off the dribble, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic actually credited his playmaking and defence in preseason training. “Duke guard Tyrese Proctor out of Australia really impressed NBA personnel who went down to Duke to see the team’s prospects in the preseason. His passing and defensive acumen really stood out,” Sam Vecenie of the Athletic wrote, in a November article. A similar sentiment was echoed by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, and the resulting hype reached a climax when Proctor was named a Duke starter.
To date, Proctor has started all twelve of his games for Duke, with Scheyer creating room for the Aussie in his best five, alongside Roach. The young guard hasn’t been starved of playing time either - he is currently averaging 26.7 minutes per game, at the time of writing. But that’s not to say things have gone smoothly for Proctor, as an early season shooting slump threatened to derail his draft stock.
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