After junior forward Mason Plumlee's last two games, you have to believe he's beginning to come into his own, and that is great news for the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils.
In boosting Duke past Maryland and St. John's with teammate Austin Rivers, Plumlee was named the ACC Player of the Week. Against Maryland, he scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Against feisty St. John's, he scored 15 points and racked up 17 rebounds.
Plumlee is averaging 12.0 points and 9.8 rebounds in 29 minutes per game this season. He's not only shooting 61 percent from the field, but also developing into premier rebounder. He now has nine double-doubles this season, tops in the conference. He's also averaged 1.5 blocks on the year.
Plumlee hasn't just made his mark with his skills, however. His determination in the interior was one of the main reasons why Duke was able to get past St. John's on Saturday. After that game, his arms were covered with scratch marks.
Said Plumlee as he assessed himself, via the News & Record:
“Guys don’t like to cut their fingernails any more. I don’t know if it’s a fashion thing or just bad hygiene, but guys have got to start cutting their nails.”
If the Blue Devils win the national championship this season, you can bet a lot of it will have to do with No. 5, who averaged just 7.2 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He's clearly growing as a player and you get the feeling he's only going to get better as the season progresses.
There are plenty of high-profile players on Duke, including Rivers, but make no mistake about it, without Plumlee in the interior the Blue Devils wouldn't have a shot at the title.
If he keeps rebounding at this pace, he may have to wear arm protectors.