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Zion, RJ, Cam and Jack White? The glue that binds the Duke Blue Devils
If you paid attention to any of the 2019/20 NBA draft predictions coming out of the United States, you’d see three names feature heavily in the top handful of prospects; Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. Unsurprisingly, the Duke Blue Devils triumvirate that is widely considered one of the best in NCAA history, dominate headlines and command a level of mainstream media attention not seen in a number of years.
With that considered, you wouldn’t be blamed for not knowing the name (or indeed the impact of) Jack White on the functioning of the high-flying Blue Devils roster.
In an NCAA and NBA environment dominated by Bleacher Report highlight dunks and 14-year old high schoolers who ‘could be the next LeBron James’, no-nonsense players like White who pride themselves on doing the little things right, are quite often overlooked and underappreciated.
Which begs the question…
Who is Jack White?
The Duke Co-captain is an 6’7” athletic wing hailing from country Victoria, and a third-year player on the Blue Devils roster. Refreshingly, his basketball journey has a distinctly Australian flavour.
White represented Victoria Country throughout his junior years, and played an instrumental role in delivering a national under 20 championship in 2015. His performance in the gold medal overtime thriller against Tasmania was particularly impressive – pouring in 21 points as well as pulling down 13 boards with 3 blocks and 2 assists.
In the same year White was selected to represent Australia for the first time at the FIBA under 19 World Championships as a 17-year-old and the youngest on the roster. His youth didn’t hinder his performances at the tournament, averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds in a hybrid three/four role off the bench.
From there, White earned his first taste of professional basketball, signing with the Cairns Taipans and playing five games in the 2015/16 NBL season as a development player.
From Traralgon to Cameron Indoor Stadium
White’s performances at the top-level in Australia did not go unnoticed by those in the United States. He received a number of offers from Division I colleges, paying visits to Boise State, Temple and Hawaii among others.
However, a phone conversation with future hall of fame coach Mike Krzyzewski and a tour of the famous Cameron Indoor Stadium was enough for White to commit to the Blue Devils. Boasting illustrious alumni such as Elton Brand, JJ Redick, Mike Dunleavy Jr and more recently Kyrie Irving, Jason Tatum and Brandon Ingram, White would be made to work hard for any opportunity he would receive, yet there was little doubt that his perseverance could one day land him a spot on an NBA roster.
Now in his third year at the Blue Devils, White is playing a career high 27 minutes per game while filling up the stats-sheet, averaging 6 points and 6 boards to go with an assist, a block and a steal per game. Importantly, Coach K often uses him down the stretch as a reliable defender and as the go-to communicator on a roster loaded with transcendent talent, albeit centred around a trio of inexperienced freshmen.
What about his NBA prospects?
Trevor Magnotti from Fansided in the States said last month that Jack White is a legitimate draft prospect, and someone who has helped take the Blue Devils from ‘a glorified All-Star team to the juggernaut that Duke has been so far this year.’
White’s biggest asset is in the dirty work he does around the rim and off the ball. Whilst his usage rates are low, and he only shoots five shots per game, his screen setting, rebounding and use as a pick-and-pop option are heavily underrated assets. He is an above average shot blocker for his size and position, and has all the necessary foundations to become a legitimate 3-and-D stretch four.
The NBA continues to evolve towards a blueprint of top-heavy teams of all-stars, with bench role players who maintain the momentum and energy on both the offensive and defensive end. Think Semi Ojeleye, another Duke recruit who fits the Jack White "no-nonsense" mould. If White continues to improve his perimeter shot and spacing, and provided he keeps logging 25-plus minutes for the Blue Devils over the remainder of the season, there is every chance he gets selected as a mid second-round pick in the 2020 draft.