Now that the 2014-2015 college basketball season is in the rearview and the Duke Blue Devils are basking in championship glory, it’s time to look at what’s next for Duke before basketball fans go into hibernation awaiting the 2015-2016 season. (Just a hint, the Blue Devils may have the recipe for winning back-to-back titles.)
Coach K isn’t getting any younger but his team is. Before we get into the departures and new arrivals, it’s important to touch on Jeff Capel deciding to stay with the team as an assistant. Capel took his name out of the discussion for the head coaching vacancy at Arizona State soon after the Blue Devils cut down the nets in Indianapolis. Capel has been Coach K’s most trusted assistant since he joined the staff in 2011.
Duke isn’t necessarily known for grabbing one and done players throughout Coach K’s tenure but recently it seems as if he and John Calipari are ahead of everyone in college basketball. Duke will send Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and senior Quinn Cook to the NBA Draft this year which would make one think that Duke is due for a letdown in the 2015-2016 season. Those four players accounted for nearly 70 percent of Duke’s points, rebounds and assists during their National Championship run. Not so fast though. Duke and Coach K are retooling, and when I say retooling I really mean RE-LOADING in a big way. Duke is bringing in the nation’s best recruiting class with four of the top twenty-four players in America according to the ESPN Top 100.
Here’s how the list shakes out:
- Brandon Ingram (#3 ESPN 100/#1 SF): The 5-star forward from Kinston, N.C., turned out to be one of the stars at the McDonald’s All-American Game and would be a key addition for Duke, making up for the loss of Winslow’s athleticism and production from the wing.
- Chase Jeter (#11 ESPN 100/#4 C): The 6-11 forward from Las Vegas played on one of the best high school teams in the country. He will help make up for the loss of Okafor in the frontcourt. Jeter isn’t at the level Okafor was coming out of high school, but he is long, athletic and can run the floor very well.
- Derryck Thornton (#17 ESPN 100/#3 PG): Thornton is a 5-star point guard from Findlay Prep High School who will help make up for the departure of Jones. Thornton, who passed up on his final year of high school to make the jump to college, has the hard skills and intangibles to be a pure point guard. His floor leadership is off the charts and he plays fast, but under control.
- Luke Kennard (#24 ESPN 100/#6 SG): Kennard is a 5-star guard from Franklin, Ohio. He is one of the most decorated scorers in the history of Ohio high school basketball. He’s a tremendous shooter, but also has the ability to run an offense with his vision, basketball IQ and passing ability. Kennard might remind Coach K of another great shooter/floor general from years back, Jon Scheyer.
All in all Duke is ready to make another run at a national championship. With the emergence of Grayson Allen and the unbelievable talent heading to Durham, the Cameron Crazies have a lot to be excited and go crazy about. Coach K continues to cement legacy in college basketball and looking at how things are going he could become the greatest men’s college basketball coach that ever lived. (Sorry, John Wooden.)