Vernon Carey Jr has been as good as any freshman in the nation. Undoubtedly, he is the leading force behind the Duke Blue Devils 11-1 start and number four ranking. Carey is putting up monster numbers, but garnering little attention from the national media. It would be a challenge to find two freshmen better than him in the nation.
Vernon Carey Jr Deserves National Attention
Carey is averaging 18.7 points and 9 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the field in just 24 minutes of action. Carey even had a streak of seven straight double-doubles, five of which were at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. For college basketball, these numbers are outstanding, but the closer you look, the better they become.
Vernon Carey faces consistent double teams. Every game, as soon as Carey touches the ball in the low post, a defender is running at him. Freshmen can struggle when they face things they are not used to, but Carey has responded well.
Duke has a few shooters, but they are not considered a great shooting team by any stretch of the imagination. This makes the double teams that much better against Carey because teams do not fear the kick out for a three as much. Carey has shown great feel and has consistently made the right play. Whether it is a dump off to the other big, a skip pass to a shooter, or a quick post-move, Carey gets the job done.
In terms of freshman, Anthony Edwards and Cole Anthony are frequently referenced. In terms of forwards, Isaiah Stewart gets a lot of attention. All of these players have had good years, but none of them have been as dominant as Vernon Carey.
Vernon Carey Jr’s Weaknesses
Vernon Carey is already a stud; that much is clear. However, there are a few areas he can clean up to elevate his game to the next level. First, Carey is too good of a shooter to be shooting 63 percent from the free-throw line. His free throw looks different than his actual jump shot, as he brings the ball across his body. This is an easy fix and will come with practice repetitions.
Second, Carey can improve his feel for the game. As a freshman, players are often sped up and play out of control. As a post player, this can happen when you are dominant because double teams come and you can go extended periods without taking a shot, while still making the right play. For Carey, this has happened less than expected and this is just nitpicking. However, with increased experience, Carey will continue to sharpen these tools and develop more trust with his teammates.
It is worth noting, Vernon Carey missed significant time in his senior season of high school with injuries, so he is still a bit rusty when it comes to real game action.
Awards, Awards, and More Awards
Vernon Carey will win ACC freshman of the year in what should be a runaway. He will be first-team All-ACC and have a legitimate chance to win ACC Player of the Year. A lot will hinge on a meeting against Louisville in late January as Carey will have a chance to outplay Jordan Nwora. If all goes to plan, Carey should also be an All-American. A first-team finish is a possibility, but he will safely be on the second team.
Vernon Carey Jr Player Comparison
For Blue Devil fans, Carey draws plenty of comparisons to Jahlil Okafor. Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 66 percent from the field. He was known for his excellent footwork and great touch around the basket, leading Duke to a National Championship while garnering All-American and ACC Player of the Year honors.
Vernon Carey plays a similar style as Okafor, but his range is extended. Carey is four of six from three this season and should shoot more than he does. He is a potent pick and roll threat, but adding an occasional pick and pop can elevate his game. However, both Okafor and Carey are tough because of their outstanding footwork and touch around the rim.
In terms of NBA prospects, Carey was considered a low-end first-round pick. That was wildly inaccurate. If he continues his current pace, Vernon Carey is a top ten pick. He can space the floor, has great athleticism for a big, can run the floor, and is an above-average defender. All of these aspects fit perfectly into a modern NBA system.
Vernon Carey is similar to an athletic version of Zach Randolph. Randolph dominated the NBA with a great face-up game and a plethora of post moves. Think of a morph of Randolph and Okafor. Carey has a better offensive game than Okafor and is far more athletic than Randolph. He is a special player that will add a ton to an NBA roster.
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