Jeremy Roach spent the night of the recent NBA Draft in Charlotte watching as, one-by-one, all of his fellow starters from last year’s Duke lineup heard their names called by professional teams, four in the first round followed by his old high school teammate Trevor Keels in the second.
If it wasn’t clear before, it became graphically so then — Roach, a rising junior, will bring the most experience in a Duke uniform to the first Blue Devil roster that will play for new head coach Jon Scheyer.
Roach started 27 games and averaged 29 minutes per for last year’s Final Four team. There are only three other returnees from that club — sophomore Jaylen Blakes, who played 93 minutes total, and walkons Stanley Borden and Spencer Hubbard. The other 11 players on hand this year include seven freshmen and four graduate transfers.
The new squad has been on campus since late June setting the foundation for 2022-23 with a multitude of activities — from strength and conditioning drills to small-group workouts to full-team practice sessions as permitted by NCAA regulations.
Plus the requisite bonding that needs to take place within a group of so many fresh faces.
“The main thing is trying to get everybody to bond together and get everybody accustomed to one another,” said Roach following a fast-paced afternoon practice, “and for the young guys to get them accustomed to playing at this level, the physicality, the mental approach, everything that comes with Duke basketball and that you need to be ready for.
“That’s what I’m here for. Being a leader and being the oldest returner for Duke, that’s going to be big. Just trying to get the guys acclimated to the Duke culture. Obviously we have a new team and a new coaching staff. I’m just excited to work with these young guys and the graduate transfers. Should be a fun summer.”
Roach, who took in the NBA Draft at former captain Wendell Moore’s watch party in Charlotte, clearly recognizes the leadership expectations on his shoulders during these critical summer weeks. After ending his sophomore season by playing his best basketball in the NCAA Tournament, he hopes the strides he made will help him in guiding so many new Blue Devils.
“Definitely that momentum is going to be big for the whole team,” Roach noted. “That confidence I have will rub off on everybody else and have them playing at that level and hopefully continue to play at that level the whole season, and make it back to where…