We’ve seen so many different transfers in the past month that it’s been hard to keep track of. There have also been a lot of big names switching teams and will have a big impact on the upcoming season. But there are also cases where an under-the-radar pickup can be just as pivotal. That’s what Duke Basketball fans will be hoping with the addition of Marquette big man Theo John.
John is a 6’9 and 255-pound big man that spent four seasons with the Golden Eagles, three of which as a primary frontcourt starter. His career scoring average is 5.5 ppg but he did have a high of 8.0 ppg in 27 games this past season. That included a career-high of 16 points but it’s clear that John isn’t an offensive threat most of the time.
What John is, however, is a strong defensive player and rebounder that can guard a number of positions on the court. He’s a smart and capable shot blocker that doesn’t need the ball to be an impact player. While not a star player at 30 mpg, John is set to transition into a role that’ll be a two-way benefit with the Blue Devils.
The frontcourt for Duke Basketball this past season was solid, with star sophomore Matthew Hurt leading the way. But between the inconsistencies (mainly on defense) and having to fit in so many freshmen in the rotation led to what ended up being a rough overall season.
Things look much different now, with Hurt gone, Jalen Johnson been gone, and now, both Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman having left via the transfer portal. It’s great that the team has a pair of top-10 overall forward prospects coming in with AJ Griffin and Paolo Banchero but without any frontcourt depth, that won’t give the Blue Devils the advantage against top-25 and fellow ACC competition.
That’s where John will come in. He’s as good a bench player as there will be in the ACC next season. Quite frankly, he could start at center right now for half of the teams in the league. Instead, he’ll be playing behind national breakout candidate Mark Williams at the center spot. John also will play alongside Banchero as well and that’s a solid fit as the five-star freshman is a great offensive player and John is a great defensive player.
The expected frontcourt rotation of John, Banchero, Williams, Griffin, and Joey Baker as a small-ball power forward gives the team a ton of potential on-the-court lineups that are natural fits on the court. John will be the lone senior among them but he provides both defense and experience for a team that could surely use some to get back to being Final Four contenders.
Barring something unexpected, John could very well average around five points and four rebounds a game, which would be around what he’s done while at Marquette. Yet it’s not the statistics but rather the off-the-court and the off-the-bench impact he’ll have with the Blue Devils. Being able to land a power conference starter and bring him off the bench is a big win and Duke hopes John will help bring in more wins next season.