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Orlando Blue Devils: Magic Building Duke Frontcourt to Lead Franchise

Or should we say the Duke Magic?

ORLANDO - The Orlando Magic shocked the NBA world Thursday night, selecting Duke forward Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 overall pick.

Banchero isn't the only Duke player on the roster, as Wendell Carter Jr. also played his college ball in Durham.

Both were one-and-done at Duke under coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired at season's end after 42 years at the helm.

With a ton of attention surrounding Coach K's final season, Banchero led the Blue Devils to the Final Four for the first time since 2015.

"I can't imagine too many pressure-packed seasons than playing for Duke in Coach K's last season," Magic president Jeff Weltman said.

Weltman also praised Banchero for elevating his game during Duke's Final Four run and being able to excel when it mattered most.

"Guys are different in November than March," Weltman. "We do feel that as he grows and he evolves that he's going to be one of those guys that's built for playoff basketball."

Playoff basketball is certainly the goal for the Magic, who have not won a postseason series since 2010 when Dwight Howard was leading the frontcourt.

Now, that responsibility belongs to Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr., another Duke product who was drafted in 2018 and traded to Orlando in 2021.

After signing a four-year, $50 million extension at the beginning of this past season, the Magic confirmed Carter Jr. to be one of the team's building blocks moving forward.

In his first full season with the Magic, Carter Jr. posted the best numbers of his career, averaging 15.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

The Magic is hoping that by pairing the Blue Devils together in the frontcourt, there will be some natural chemistry before the two even play on the court together.

"I've talked to him [Carter Jr.] in the past," Banchero said in a press conference Friday. "He's a great guy overall. He has a great reputation at Duke, and a great reputation here."

Carter Jr. has already built a strong reputation in Orlando, and now it's time for Banchero to do the same.