Next up in our Big East top returning guards down is David Duke out of Providence, who slots in at #4 in our countdown. Efficiency and strong defense is the name of the game for Duke, who averaged 12 points per game to go with 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He was fourth in the conference with 42% shooting from three-point range, and he also ranked fourth with 1.6 steals per contest. Duke led the Friars in assists, and he’s the second-best returning rebounder and top returning scorer on the team entering his junior season.
Providence struggled to a 7-6 non-conference record, but Duke posted solid numbers, and he helped the Friars get their season back on course in Big East play. He demonstrated his versatility in the conference opener against Georgetown, notching 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. He put forth his signature effort of the year at #25 Creighton, the eventual conference winners, torching the Blue Jays for 36 points, four rebounds, two assists, and three steals, shooting 6-8 from beyond the arc. One game later, he posted a double-double against #9 Villanova. He punctuated a solid sophomore season with back-to-back 16-point, 4-steal performances versus Xavier and DePaul.
Duke posted particularly spectacular numbers when he was Providence’s go-to-guy, notching a touch under 17 points in 12 games in which he got 10+ field goal attempts. To improve on his sophomore year, he’ll have to maintain his efficiency with a higher shot volume and stay consistent, avoiding performances like road contests at Georgetown and Villanova, where he shot a combined 1-13 from the field for a total of 3 points. If he avoids games like those and continues to shoot at a lethal clip from range, Duke should have Providence competing for the Big East Championship and a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.