Wendell Moore's Development Will Be Crucial to a Reloaded Duke Team

Our freshman intro series continues with Wendell Moore, who will have a key role on the wing for yet another talented Duke roster this winter.
By Emily Caron ,

In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. In 2019, six of the top 10 NBA draft picks were one-and-done, and eight of the 14 lottery picks overall. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond. Just look at last year’s group of rookies we profiled: Tre Jones, Ashton Hagans, Jalen Smith and Devon Dotson lead a whopping 12 former 2018 five-stars back for a sophomore season.

With all of that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball for 2019–20 and breaking down the impact those players could have. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. Next up is the No. 25 overall recruit, Duke's Wendell Moore. You can view all of the profiles to date here.

What He Means for Duke’s Recruiting Class

Wendell Moore is a 6’4” small forward who joins Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s No. 3 ranked recruiting class down in Durham this fall. Moore, a four-star wing from Concord, N.C., joins five-star big men Vernon Carey Jr. (No. 5) and Matthew Hurt (No. 12) and four-star shooting guard Cassius Stanley (No. 33) in a crew comprised of four top-40 players. The well-rounded class fills holes at four different positions for Duke, who must do some serious rebuilding after losing their top-three scorers to the NBA draft. While this year’s class might not steal as many headlines as last year’s star-studded freshman lineup (cough, Zion, cough), there’s still potential for these newcomers. Moore is a developing shooter and defensive presence who should play a big role for the Blue Devils on the wing.

How He Fits

Point guard Tre Jones decided to stay at Duke for his sophomore season, giving the Blue Devils an experienced facilitator to build their new roster around. While either juniors Alex O’Connell or Jordan Goldwire or newcomer Stanley—who figures to get his share of starting assignments as a freakishly athletic shooting guard who relentlessly attacks the rim and is a good enough shooter to keep opposing defenses on alert—will slot in alongside Jones in the backcourt, Moore should see immediate minutes at the three. A solid scorer from at the basket with a decent mid-range game and potential at the three-point line, the McDonald’s All-American will need to help on all fronts without the likes of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish on the floor. His game is geared more toward scoring inside at the moment, and developing a stronger perimeter game would make Moore into a much more versatile offensive weapon for the Blue Devils. Duke hopes Moore can develop as a defensive stopper for them, which could make the freshman a great glue guy for Coach K, capable of delivering whatever Duke needs him to do defensively on any given night. He can finish in the lane, plays hard and provides immediate defensive potential. Moore and Stanley will both need to step up big time on the wing offensively to provide a scoring punch for the once again rebuilding Blue Devils.

Carey Jr. should anchor the team’s frontcourt, with Hurt likely also seeing starter’s minutes from the jump. Veteran forwards Jack White and Javin DeLaurier (who is back after testing the NBA draft waters) will help off the bench, as will sophomore Joey Baker. Moore could be just the type of two-way presence Duke needs to compete in the ACC, given that he hits the ground running. Give Coach K some time to whittle down his rotation to seven or eight trusted players as he always does, but count on Moore to make the cut. While Moore may not be a stat-sheet stuffer off the bat—he’s one of the youngest recruits in the class and won't turn 18 until September—Duke could still see an eventual starting five that includes a new set of four freshmen faces helmed by Jones’s steady hand.

Importance to Duke's Success/Team Outlook

With Jones returning to run the floor and the likes of Baker, Goldwire, White and more back to bring an element of experience to the team, Duke should be set up for another successful season, especially if Moore can contribute scoring off the bat. Shooting and rim protection is where Duke needs help the most in light of its losses, and Moore should be able to help significantly with the former if he can find his fit on the floor early on.

The latter task will fall to his incoming classmates Carey Jr. and Hurt. While this year’s team won’t be as flashy as Zion & Co., Moore and the rest of Duke’s recruits bring talent at every position needed, filling out a five-man rotation around Jones at point. The incoming class should be able to find enough chemistry to succeed this season. They’re set up better to stay afloat in the face of injury—something last year’s squad struggled with—which could even mean a stronger run come spring as this year’s youngsters try to top the exploits of Williamson’s team.

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