It’s not often that two high school teammates play against each other in college basketball, and even less common for two sets of high school teammates to do this — especially in one of the most heated rivalries in all of college basketball.
This exact situation is what North Carolina sophomore guard RJ Davis and senior forward Leaky Black will find themselves in on Saturday when Duke visits the Dean E. Smith Center.
Davis played with Blue Devils forward AJ Griffin at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y., from 2017-2020, while Black teamed up with forward Wendell Moore Jr. at Cox Mill in Concord during his senior year in 2017-2018.
This will be the first time Davis and Griffin face each other wearing different shades of blue. But Black and Moore have faced off four times since Moore entered the Duke program in the 2019-2020 season — one of which included a buzzer-beater from Moore to give the Blue Devils a stunning win two years ago.
“You try to be excited for one of your guys, but at the other time you got your other guy sitting on the bench who just lost a big game to a former teammate,” former Cox Mill head coach Jody Barbee said. “As a coach, it’s pulling at your heart a little bit just watching both kids having a great moment and a sad moment at the same time.”
At the end of the day, no matter who is on the winning side of the rivalry, there’s a mutual respect between the two high school teammates.
“Their relationship is one of respect,” Black’s mother, Carla Black, said. “People want him to say something that sounds like a better fit for the Carolina-Duke rivalry, but I’ve never heard (Leaky) say anything but how great of a player (Wendell) is. He just respects his game.”
This respect between the now Tobacco Road foes comes from Black’s senior year at Cox Mill, where he and Moore helped the team win a state championship with a 29-3 record while ranked No. 21 in the nation.
Moore averaged 25.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, using his 6-foot-5 frame to his advantage, anchoring the Chargers offense. Meanwhile, Black averaged 13.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.2 steals and 1.5 blocks, and was the top defender on the team.