LaPhonso Ellis: Vernon Carey Jr. Has Gone From Tentative to Dominant


ESPN analyst Laphonso Ellis, a former power forward at Notre Dame and in the NBA, gave his breakdown of Duke’s freshman big man Vernon Carey Jr.

“I thought, early on, he was a little tentative,” Ellis said. “(He scored) 22 pts in his first two games, if I remember correctly—back-to-back 11-point games. Then, all of a sudden, you could tell he got comfortable knowing where he wanted to catch the basketball out on the floor I thought Coach did a great job putting him in the middle of ball screens, diving in. Because there’s so many perimeter shooting threats around, there’s no help. So now he’s one-on-one on the inside.”

“I talked to a couple coaches that remember when he played for Nike,” Ellis continued. “And he played out on the floor, primarily. They didn’t post him up much. He didn’t really have a back-to-the-basket game. He’s more comfortable facing, but I felt that third game, he got more comfortable. Since then, he’s been dominant.”

Ellis has also been impressed with Carey’s passing out of double teams.

“What happens is often times, as a big, you get uncomfortable,” he said. “You’re always looking for where that guard is. You’re afraid to put it down on the floor. Now he’s starting to look to the middle and read where that double team is coming from, and he doesn’t hold onto it very long. He gets it out. What I’ve been impressed with—it’s one thing to get the pass out of there. He’s getting it onto the hands of the guy who’s ready to shoot it.”