Jalen Johnson couldn’t have scripted a much better debut for Duke. The Blue Devils freshman had 19 points in the win over Coppin State. He also led the team with 19 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots.
“It was just fun,” he said of his first game. “I’m really taking advantage of the opportunity, being here at Duke. This has always been a dream of mine, so I finally got a chance to live out that dream today. Everything went how we wanted it to.”
Johnson was just the third Blue Devil to open his career with a double-double. He also set a freshman record for defensive rebounds with 15. That was also the third most by any Blue Devil in a game and the most since 2006.
“To be honest, I was just trying to get the win,” he said. “The win was the only thing on my mind during this time, and I was doing whatever I could to help the guys get the W.”
Johnson’s debut came a few days later than expected, after Duke’s Wednesday game was postponed.
“I think just coming out and finally playing against somebody else other than ourselves felt good because we’ve been waiting,” he said. “I didn’t really have any expectations other than to go out there and be myself. Just being myself – you see what happened when I was just myself. I just let the game come to me and whatever happens, happens. Most importantly, getting the W is what matters.”
Like the rest of the Blue Devils, Johnson struggled with turnovers against Coppin State. He had seven in the contest.
“I’ve just got to be stronger with the ball and know the time and score,” he said. “It’s definitely something I’m going to get better at and improve for the next game.”