DURHAM – Joey Baker has made a “good” early impression on Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski since joining the Blue Devils this summer.

The Fayetteville native and former standout at Trinity Christian reclassified earlier this year to join the Blue Devils a year earlier than anticipated.

“He’s doing well,” Krzyzewski said of Baker on Friday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“It’s a little bit fast for him right now. He’s got a great attitude; he’s going to be a great player. He’s just going a little bit faster than he should right now. That’s better than going slower. He’ll be a good player here. We’re very happy that he’s here.”

Krzyzewski said Baker will get an opportunity to play next week when the Blue Devils begin their three-game exhibition tour in Canada.

Duke travels to Canada on Monday and will practice in the Toronto area on Tuesday. The Blue Devils will begin a stretch of three games in five days when they play against Ryerson at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Duke will follow with a game against the University of Toronto on Friday at 6 p.m. and will close the tour on Aug. 19 at 3 p.m. against McGill. All games will air on ESPN+.

The Blue Devils will take two weeks off following their Canada trip.

“We’re very excited about going to Canada,” Krzyzewski said. “. …It gives us an opportunity to work with our guys. We get to know our guys a little bit better. That helps with all of the young guys that we have.”

‘Old heads’ turning heads

In addition to Krzyzewski, juniors Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier also spoke to media members on Friday.

As two of the few upperclassmen on a roster stocked with star-studded freshmen, DeLaurier talked about the process of enhancing his leadership role.

“Marques and I have a lot of moments like that where we kind of realize we’re the old heads around here now, which is funny because it feels like we were just stepping on campus ourselves,” he said.

“Fortunately, these young guys have been tremendous so far.”

DeLaurier spent the majority of his offseason in San Antonio working out with teammate Justin Robinson and Robinson’s father, NBA legend David Robinson.

“We had a great experience working out down there,” DeLaurier said. “. … I really thought about the game in a different way. I’m starting to pay more attention to details.”

After dealing with injuries over his first two seasons in Durham, a healthier Bolden said he expects “big things” this year.

“I feel like it’ll be a lot different just because of the growth that I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Bolden said.

“Coming in, 17-, 18-year-old me is a totally different person from me now. I feel like it’s going to be an exciting year.”

Krzyzweski has been impressed with the progress of both guys.

“We’re really pleased with the improvement of our upperclassmen. Javin has played great, not good. … Marques has been used a little bit differently and he’s adjusting. He’s done a good job.”

Reddish, Jones nursing injuries

Krzyzewski announced Friday morning that freshmen Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones will not play in Canada.

Reddish has a groin muscle strain and Jones is nursing a hip injury that he had when he arrived at Duke earlier this summer. Both five-star recruits have been limited participants in Duke’s seven practices this summer, which are allowed for teams taking an NCAA-approved foreign tour.

Duke is taking a cautious approach, Krzyzewski said, in order to have both players ready on Labor Day when Duke resumes individual workouts.

“I wish these two kids were healthy,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s not anything that we are worried about. But, again, it’s August. We shouldn’t put them in a position where they might get a more serious injury as a result of playing right now.”

Barrett returning home

R.J. Barrett leads the way as the top overall prospect in the nation’s top-ranked class.

Barrett, who was born in Toronto, will return home for Duke’s Canada tour.

“It’s really excited,” Barrett said. “I get to go home to play in front of all of my family and friends with my brothers. It’s going to be a great experience.”

With Reddish and Jones sidelined, Barrett will also be the team’s primary playmaker.

“R.J., for this trip, you’ll see him handle the ball a lot,” Krzyzewski said.

Still, Barrett said the message from the coaching staff has remained consistent.

“It’s been the same since they recruited me,” he said. “That’s to play my game and do what I’ve always done.”

He’ll also insist that his teammates try some poutine, a Canadian dish that consists of fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy.

“I just want them to walk downtown Toronto and see how it is,” Barrett said. “… and we have to try a couple of different foods.”

‘Graceful’ Zion

Social media went wild when Zion Williamson was listed as a 6-foot-7, 285-pound forward on Duke’s roster.

Known for his highlight reel filled with high-flying dunks, Williamson’s weight was a concern for fans and others.

It’s not, however, something that has concerned Krzyzewski.

“He’s graceful,” Krzyzewski said of Williamson.

“His lateral movement and anticipatory skills are really at a high, high level. He can really play basketball.

“The weight that he has is really deceiving because when people think of that high weight that think of being out of shape, fat. It’s just the opposite with him; it’s not a lot of body fat.”

 

Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at rbaxley@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3519.