Once Duke started playing through Vernon Carey, their offense has been much more productive. Carey is so powerful on the block. He is always strong with the ball, uses his body to create space, and has great touch with his left hand. One thing that you can’t teach is that he has good instincts on the block. He finds ways to get to high-quality shots as he feels where the defense is and uses his instincts to beat his man without having any real go-to move. He is 270 lbs., so he can just use his size to dominate his opponent. Carey is only 18 years old but is not afraid of contact as he is first in the ACC in free-throw attempts. Teams are going to start doubling him frequently, which he hasn’t had to deal with too often. Part of this is because he is so quick getting into his moves and is good at getting deep position by the rim. In addition to his low-post game, Carey can score on the move. He has been an effective roll-man for an offense as well as an effective screener with his big body. Something that can add another dimension to his game is his potential 3-point shot as he is 4/6 from 3 in 11 games. One of Carey’s best qualities is his switchability on defense as he is 270 lbs. but is light on his feet and is guarding 1-5 at the college level. Carey has also been a strong rim protector as well averaging 2.2 BPG and only 2.4 fouls per game. Vernon has been good at walling up when an opposing player drives at him to force a difficult shot without fouling. On the glass, Carey has been very good on the glass as well showing a high motor and getting “out of area rebounds.” He has been great on the offensive glass especially averaging 2.8 ORB. While he has been one of the most dominant players in college basketball, he has been effective with his opportunities as he is first in the nation in player efficiency rating.
Carey has been great on the post but almost always goes to his left hand. Bigs will start to sit on his right shoulder and will try and force him to go to his right hand. In addition to this, he hasn’t been tested yet if he can score over length. Another area of concern is that Vernon has not shown if he can make the correct reads and find the open man against a double team. Though he has had success with his jump-shot, his mechanics do have flaws as it is a slow wind-up and it is a little awkward. His 63.8% from the free-throw line speaks louder than the 4 3 pointers he has made this season. When he doesn’t get the consistent touches, he hasn’t been quite the same player as he doesn’t have that same motor on defense or the glass. On defense, Carey isn’t always on time on his rotations, despite having good foot speed. He also doesn’t have great height/length for an NBA center.
Vernon Carey has had so many great performances this year, but the most impressive one was against a very solid Michigan State team where he had 26 points and 11 rebounds. That game proved he is dominating against quality competition and it is becoming undeniable the type of player he can be. He can be a great post presence for any offense and create easy baskets for his team. Carey will also destroy any team that tries to switch as he is just so strong and powerful, no guard would stand a chance. Old-school centers aren’t popular in today’s game, but having a strong post asset can be a real game-changer for an offense and can keep your team from getting into long scoring droughts. The thing is though, you have to commit to getting him his touches because he is not the same player without them. Carey is capable of playing as a roll-man, but that is not his game. Vernon is different than most old-school bigs for 2 reasons. The first one is that he is capable of shooting from distance and while his mechanics aren’t great, he doesn’t have to be a 40% shooter from 3. He just has to be good enough to make a defense respect him. The second reason is his ability to switch on the perimeter. That will give his coach flexibility to scheme different defenses vs different opponents and also will allow him to play more minutes in general. I do have concerns about his ability to protect the rim. He is only 6’10 and his wingspan won’t be listed until the combine but if it’s only like 7’1 or less, it will be difficult for him to get the same blocks he is getting in college where he just jumps straight up and his length alone can block college opponents. His wingspan should affect where he is going to get drafted, but he still has other traits to offer to a team. He has the potential to be a 20 and 10 type of player if a team is willing to consistently make him a 2nd scoring option. There is no better word to describe Vernon Carey than “powerful” and his ability to be that as well as his versatility on defense is going to make him a starting center at the next level.
Early draft projection: 9-15
Article written by Bradley Patten
All stats provided by Basketball-Reference (https://www.basketball-reference.com)
Photo Credit to: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images (https://bustingbrackets.com/2019/11/23/duke-basketball-vernon-carey-emerges-go-player-blue-devils/2/)