A Duke basketball rookie has received a challenge in the form of an insult.
Early on in the 2020 recruiting cycle, the Duke basketball coaches scouted current UNC basketball freshman Caleb Love. However, they never officially entered the race.
Skip ahead to Saturday evening.
Mike Krzyzewski and his staff watched the 6-foot-4 guard torch the Blue Devils (7-7, 5-5 ACC) to the tune of game-highs with 25 points and seven assists while shooting 4-for-5 from beyond the arc.
In short, Love proved to be the overriding factor in the Tar Heels (12-6, 7-4 ACC) notching a 91-87 victory over their archenemies in Durham.
Rewinding a few years, the initial interest in Love from the Blue Devils was no surprise. After all, Justin Tatum, father of Duke basketball product Jayson Tatum, coached the five-star prep at Christian Brothers College in St. Louis.
Also, Love’s dad, Dennis, later suggested to St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Benjamin Hochman that Coach K and his gang could’ve easily nudged his son to their end of Tobacco Road:
“Caleb’s dream school was Duke. And Coach K came here. We thought it was going to happen. And then, it didn’t happen.”
Why not? The elder Love explained:
“Jeremy Roach…Jeremy committed to Duke. They were still recruiting him, but Caleb made it clear that he wanted to be a point guard, even though he can play off the ball. So we knew that wasn’t going to work…And he said to me, ‘I need that North Carolina offer.’”
Trash-tweeting the Duke basketball guard
Two hours after the win at Duke, Caleb Love took to Twitter to thump his chest and seemingly poke fun at the guy who had nabbed the offer he originally desired the most. Now, via his production in his Cameron Indoor Stadium debut and the following shots-fired tweet — including a shot of Jeremy Roach guarding him — the Tar Heel has secured his page in the storied rivalry:
Sure, Love could’ve acted like he’d been there before. That said, there’s no denying he earned the right to put his emotions out there in light of his sensational outing on Coach K Court.
Yet in fairness to Roach, despite the loss, his first showing against UNC wasn’t a total disappointment. No, the former five-star out of Virginia, who wound up nine spots lower than Love at No. 23 on the final 247Sports 2020 Composite, totaled 16 points and five assists of his own. Plus, although he contributed to some open looks by the Tar Heels, he did finish with three steals.
Of course, looking ahead while looking again at Caleb Love’s tweet, Jeremy Roach shouldn’t have any motivation issues when he and the Blue Devils travel eight miles to the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill on March 6.
Bookmark Ball Durham for more Duke basketball news and views.