Duke basketball adds second new player from transfer portal as veteran forward commits

Though the six freshmen coming to Duke basketball next season are expected to play major roles, Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer wants to balance his roster with veteran players.

He took a big step in that direction Monday when Mason Gillis announced he would be transferring to Duke from Purdue.

The 6-5, 225-pound Gillis averaged 6.5 points and 3.9 points last season while helping the Boilermakers make the NCAA Tournament’s championship game before losing to Connecticut.

He’s been on Purdue’s roster the past five seasons, beginning with his 2019-20 season when he redshirted. He began playing in the 2020-21 season and appeared in 132 games for Purdue over the past four seasons. He has one season of eligibility remaining because the NCAA doesn’t count the 2020-21 season against players’ eligibility clock due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gillis made 48.6% of his 3-pointers last season, something that made him a target for Duke in the transfer portal this month. He’s also considered a solid rebounder and defender.

Gillis projects as a top bench player for Duke next season as Scheyer builds his team around 6-9 freshman forward Cooper Flagg, the nation’s No. 1-rated recruit. Flagg’s ball-handling, passing and shooting skills make him best as a small forward comfortable playing on the perimeter and inside.

As seven players from last season’s 27-9 Duke team have entered their names in the transfer portal, Gillis becomes Duke’s second incoming transfer. The Blue Devils received a commitment from former Syracuse forward Maliq Brown on Saturday.

The 6-8 Brown, the ACC’s leader in steals last season when he made the league’s all-defensive team, has a chance to start at power forward at Duke for his junior season.

Duke will have two freshmen centers in 7-1 Khaman Malauch and 6-11 Patrick Ngongba.

The Blue Devils are returning just two players from last season’s team: junior guard Tyrese Proctor and sophomore guard Caleb Foster.

The three remaining incoming freshmen, 6-5 Darren Harris, 6-5 Kon Knueppel and 6-6 Isaiah Evans, are expected to add perimeter scoring punch.

With Gillis now in the fold, Duke has 10 scholarships committed for next season, so Scheyer has room to add more depth via the transfer portal. Duke needs a veteran guard to back up Proctor and Foster, or start if an opportunity presents itself.