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Scouting takeaways: Which players shined brightest in latest UNC-Duke clash?

Duke-North Carolina, the biggest rivalry in college basketball, took place for the first time this season and No. 3 North Carolina got the win at home over No. 7 Duke, 93-84.

It was UNC’s relentless defense that was the biggest difference-maker, forcing 11 turnovers and capitalizing on every opportunity. UNC’s Harrison Ingram and Armando Bacot combined for 46 points and 23 rebounds in the win and the Tar Heels led by as many as 15 points late in the second half.

Almost every NBA Draft cycle there are players from both blue-blood programs who hear NBA commissioner Adam Silver call their names on draft night, and this year won’t be any different. Former Duke forward Paolo Banchero was the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft and Coby White, a former Tar Heel, was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 7 pick in the 2019 draft.

Close to a dozen NBA scouts and executives were in attendance at the Dean E. Smith Center. Yahoo Sports takes a look at seven players in the game whom NBA scouts are keeping tabs on and how they performed.

Harrison Ingram, North Carolina

Ingram elected to transfer to UNC from Stanford for his junior year and he has been a massive addition, particularly on offense, with his size on the perimeter at 6-foot-7 and ability to guard positions 1-4. During the win over Duke, he was stepping into shots with confidence, knocking down five 3s and extending Duke’s defense to allow spacing in the lane for one-on-one touches for Bacot off the block. He was everywhere defensively, diving on the floor for loose balls, winning 50/50 balls off tips or rebounds, and also forcing four steals. Ingram has been a fringe first-round to mid-second-round pick all season, and the way he played against Duke should help his draft stock.

Feb 3, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Harrison Ingram (55) and guard RJ Davis (4) in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
North Carolina forward Harrison Ingram (55) and guard RJ Davis walk off the court in the second half at the Dean E. Smith Center. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect / Reuters)

RJ Davis, North Carolina

The senior guard has been unstoppable in conference play and will be in the conversation for Player of the Year. He’s leading the ACC in scoring, averaging 21.5 points per game, and prior to the win over Duke, Davis put up 36 points in a win over Wake Forest last week. He’s a three-level scorer and can get a shot off in both the catch-and-shoot and off the dribble. With how productive he’s been his senior season (and the upcoming NBA Draft being wildly unpredictable), Davis could rise up draft boards despite his size at 6 foot.

Armando Bacot, North Carolina

It was a battle inside the paint between Bacot and Duke’s 7-foot center Kyle Filipowski. In the first half, it was Bacot beating Duke forwards up the court for easy buckets and getting to his spots off screens. He showcased a nice touch around the rim with both his left and right hand, finishing through contact, and made it difficult for Filipowski to establish position. Bacot elected to return for his senior season and didn’t even go through the pre-draft process last spring. He’s one of the best bigs on the boards in college basketball, leading all ACC players in rebounds with 9.9 per game.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke

Filipowski was trying to do everything he could in the second half to try and get Duke back into the game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his best shooting night, going 1-for-6 from 3-point range. He finished with 22 points (16 second-half points) and made it difficult for Bacot to get easy touches in the paint during half-court sets. Filipowski is better off the dribble and loves to take two dribbles left before spinning back right and sealing the defender. His 3-point shot has improved this year, shooting 37% from deep his sophomore season after only shooting 28% from 3-point range last season. Filipowski’s draft range is late lottery to mid-first round.

Jared McCain, Duke

McCain is Duke’s best 3-point shooter and his biggest strength as a shooter is in transition with how quickly he gets his feet set. Duke was only 5-for-19 from behind the arc, and McCain went 2-for-6 from deep, finishing with 23 points. He’s shooting 40% from 3-point range on the season and the freshman guard has adjusted well to the pace of the college game and works well in a variety of different lineups alongside Jeremy Roach, Caleb Foster and Tyrese Proctor. McCain, a 6-3 combo guard, does a lot of the little things really well and has won at every level prior to joining Duke this year. He’s showing NBA scouts that he doesn’t back down from competition and isn’t afraid to take big shots when the game is on the line.

Duke guard Jared McCain (0) drives against North Carolina guard Seth Trimble, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Duke guard Jared McCain drives against North Carolina guard Seth Trimble, left, during the second half Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Tyrese Proctor, Duke

Proctor elected to return for his sophomore year after dealing with a few injuries and not finding a rhythm during his freshman season. Unfortunately, the 6-5 combo guard has been plagued by injury again, suffering an early-season ankle sprain. He looks to be back to full strength, and NBA scouts like his upside and how well he passes. But his shot is still a little inconsistent and he didn’t get a ton of good looks against North Carolina. Proctor went 1-for-6 from the field with only two points in 26 minutes. Proctor was a projected lottery pick to start the season, but a lack of production off the ball could see his draft stock fall to the end of the first or early second round.

Elliot Cadeau, North Carolina

Cadeau reclassified up a grade to join the Tar Heels a year early and has settled in nicely alongside Davis in the backcourt. Cadeau is an elite facilitator and a pass-first ball handler. He has one of the quickest first steps in college basketball, and as the season has progressed, his decision-making has improved. Cadeau still might need another year before making the jump to the NBA, but he’s definitely on scouts' radars with his high IQ and passing abilities. Cadeau finished with seven points and three assists in the win.