Duke basketball adds a second grad transfer big man

Steve Wiseman
·2 min read

A busy week reworking Duke’s basketball roster continued Friday when another graduate transfer big man said he’ll join the Blue Devils for next season.

Theo John, a 6-9, 255-pound forward who played for Marquette the last four seasons, announced on Twitter he’ll play his fifth season for Duke.

“After conversations with my family, I have decided that next year I will be attending Duke University for my final year of eligibility,” John said. “I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of my basketball journey. Happy to be joining #TheBrotherHood.”

John is eligible to play a fifth season due to an NCAA rule instituted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020-21 season did not count against a player’s eligibility limits, which normally allow athletes five years to play four seasons.

John joins 6-8 forward Bates Jones in playing a fifth season with the Blue Devils. Jones played four seasons at Davidson but, because that school doesn’t offer graduate courses, he said Thursday he’ll use his super senior season with the Blue Devils.

At Marquette, John played for head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the former Duke player and assistant coach. Wojciechowski was fired last month following seven seasons with the Golden Eagles.

After coming off the bench to play in 33 games as a freshman in 2017-18, John started 87 games for Marquette over the last three seasons while establishing himself as a strong defensive player. He averaged 1.5 blocked shots per game last season after averaging 1.8 as a junior and 2.1 as a sophomore.

Last season, he averaged 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds while hitting 57% of his shots from the field.

John and Jones give Duke much needed depth in their frontcourt after departures of 6-9 Matthew Hurt (NBA), 6-9 Patrick Tapé (transfer to San Francisco) and 6-8 Jaemyn Brakefield (transfer portal) since the season ended.

Duke returns 7-foot center Mark Williams, who averaged 7.1 points and 4.5 rebounds last season as a freshman, and 6-7 rising sophomore reserve forward Henry Coleman.

The incoming freshman class includes two five-star big men in 6-9 Paolo Banchero and 6-7 A.J. Griffin.

Duke’s backcourt will include returning starting point guard Jeremy Roach, a sophomore, along with junior small forward Wendell Moore and incoming freshman shooting guard Trevor Keels. Senior small forward Joey Baker will also provide depth and perimeter shooting off the bench.

Duke also has a scholarship offer out to 6-2 guard Jaylen Blakes, a four-star recruit from Blairstown, New Jersey.