Duke Basketball Player Previews: The Reserves

Duke BasketballThis latest Duke basketball preview looks at the guys who will likely play reserve roles this season – Antonio Vrankovic, Justin Robinson, Nick Pagliuca, and Brennan Besser.

Leading up to the season, we’ll be featuring each player on the roster in a preview that helps Duke fans get ready for the 2015-16 season.

We’ll handle the previews for these four a little differently than the others on the roster, considering two of them have a possibility of redshirting and the other two are walk-ons who will only play in blowout situations (if that).

However, it still won’t stop them from being favorites with the Cameron Crazies.

Antonio Vrankovic
Freshman | Center | 7’0”, 270 lbs.
Vrankovic is the player in this group who has the best chance of getting some meaningful playing time, though I think it’s unlikely, barring any serious injury in the Duke frontcourt. He arrives at Duke as a 3-star recruit who put up strong numbers in his senior season in high school – 27.5 points, 16.1 rebounds, and five blocks.

It’ll probably take a couple years for him to develop, but Vrankovic could become a reliable post contributor as a defender and rebounder. Coach K said after the exhibition game that it isn’t currently the plan, but Vrankovic could redshirt this season.

Justin Robinson
Freshman | Forward | 6’8”, 190 lbs.
Justin Robinson is one of the few college basketball players in the country who has a dad that’s qualified to offer some coaching tips. If you haven’t already heard, Robinson is the son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson, who’s already been seen around the Duke campus on multiple occasions.

He originally committed to Duke as a preferred walk-on, but eventually earned a full scholarship offer from the Blue Devils. Robinson is another candidate to redshirt this season, and hopefully a year of practicing with the team will help him become stronger and improve his game.

Brennan Besser
Freshman | Guard | 6’5”, 180 lbs.
Some Duke fans who watched the player introductions at Countdown to Craziness might have been asking, “Who’s this guy?” when Brennan Besser’s name was called and he made his way onto Coach K court.

Besser is the walk-on in Duke’s freshman class, and he arrives in Durham after attending the Latin School in Chicago. According to his bio on the official team website, Besser averaged 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds during his senior season.

Nick Pagliuca
Junior | Guard | 6’3”, 195 lbs.
Nick Pagliuca returns to Duke for his junior season, despite being left out of the equation of Duke’s “8 is enough” mantra from last year. Everyone understood what Mike Krzyzewski meant, but I did find it funny and wonder what the walk-ons (Pagliuca & Sean Kelly) thought during Coach K’s interviews where he’d talk about having “a team of eight guys.”

As the most veteran walk-on, Pagliuca will now assume the role of being the one who gets to come off the bench in the final minute in Duke’s blowout victories (it remains to be seen whether there will be many of those games). I, for one, can’t wait to see Pags make it rain 3s in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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David Aldridge

David Aldridge

David has been a die hard fan of Duke Basketball since the 1990's, when Coach K and the Blue Devils slapped the floor and made their way into his heart. During his playing days, David perfected his role on his basketball team as being the guy who would hold everyone on the bench back after a teammate would make a clutch shot. He once played N.C. State legend David Thompson in a game of H-O-R-S-E. David won.

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