Paolo Banchero Assesses First 2024-25 Duke Basketball Pick-Up Action

Returning Duke basketball guard Caleb Foster asked the young NBA Blue Devil sensation to give advice to the 2024-25 Blue Devils.
Duke basketball guard Caleb Foster
Duke basketball guard Caleb Foster / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Duke basketball rising sophomore guard Caleb Foster welcomed 2021-22 forward Paolo Banchero to the latest installment of The Brotherhood Podcast, filmed during K Academy earlier this month but not posted to the program's YouTube channel until Tuesday morning.

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It marked the first time that Foster, a lifelong fan of the Blue Devils who roomed with Banchero during his official visit before the 2021-22 season began, served as the show's host. Considering his guest's standing as the former centerpiece of a Final Four team and his long list of accomplishments in only the infancy of his pro career, it's understandable that Foster seemed a tad nervous at the start.

They talked about Banchero's statement Duke basketball debut in a Champions Classic win over Kentucky in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9, 2021, the same day Foster signed his national letter of intent to play for the Blue Devils. And they chatted about Banchero's NBA Rookie of the Year and All-Star distinctions between his first two years with the Orlando Magic since getting drafted No. 1 overall.

But a quarter of the way into the 16-minute sitdown, they shifted gears for a bit to look ahead to Jon Scheyer's third season as Duke basketball head coach. Foster wanted to know Banchero's thoughts on the 2024-25 Blue Devils after watching most of them take part in the group's first intrasquad pick-up the week of K Academy.

"Man, I gotta look at the camera...They gonna be special this year," said Banchero, who starred in Durham during Mike Krzyzewski's last season before retirement yet also formed a tight bond with Scheyer, Duke's head-coach-in-waiting at the time.

He broke down what stood out about the collection, which consists of the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, a few heralded transfers, and two returning backcourt talents hoping to take the next step toward full-fledged stardom in Caleb Foster and Tyrese Proctor.

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"You could just see guys were out there taking it really serious," Banchero noted. "I think that's the one thing that you notice, I think, right off the jump...Guys' first time playing with and against each other, you know, how are they going to play? Are they going to be friendly? Are they going to take it lightly? Or are they going to be serious going at it? And y'all definitely went at it. So, I was impressed."

What's the secret to Foster and his teammates realizing their potential?

"Everyone on the team knows how good each other is," Banchero explained. "And the only way y'all are going to get the best out of each other is if y'all hold each other accountable. You guys can't let each other slack off. Obviously, the coaches are going to do their part. But it comes down to the players. If they players are doing that, if the players are pushing each other and motivating each other, then y'all will go as far as y'all want because y'all have the talent.

"Y'all got experience. Y'all got guys coming back. Y'all got older guys coming in. You got new guys coming in, freshmen who got a lot of talent as well. Yeah, man, I think just growing close as a team, too...

"Everybody knows, my year, we were really close a group. We were always hanging out, spending time with each other. So, that just made it easy when we got on the court. We already had that chemistry."

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Matt Giles

MATT GILES

Matt Giles is the editor and publisher of FanNation's Blue Devil Country and All Tar Heels, covering the Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tar Heels on SI.com.