Last Season’s Record: 25-11 (Lost to Oregon in Sweet 16)
Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski: Entering 37th season
Key Newcomers: inthegymrange.com #2 ranked recruiting class in the country
(#’s next to players name indicates national ranking)
#2: HARRY GILES PF
#3: JAYSON TATUM SF
#10: FRANK JACKSON PG
#16: MARQUES BOLDEN PF/C
#41: JAVIN DeLAURIER PF
NR: JACK WHITE SF
Key Returning players:
- GRAYSON ALLEN (Guard)
- AMILE JEFFERSON (Forward)
- DERRICK THORNTON (Guard)- Transferred
- MATT JONES (Guard)
- LUKE KENNARD (Guard)
- CHASE JETER (Center)
Coming off a Sweet 16 loss to Oregon, The Blue Devil’s staff got good news when star SG Grayson Allen decided to return for his junior season. Projected as a first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Allen will be on many preseason All-American lists. While the loss of star F Brandon Ingram to the NBA wasn’t a surprise, the addition of 6 high school stars should help burden the loss of Ingram.
The recruiting class head coach Mike Krzezewski has brought into Durham might just be the most talented in his 37 years of coaching. 5 of the incoming freshmen are ranked among the top 41 recruits in the class of 2016. The headliner of the group is Harry Giles. The PF didn’t play his senior year because of a torn ACL, however he is healthy. Think Chris Webber when mentioning Giles. He can be that type of player.
SF Jayson Tatum was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year this past high school season. He is multi-talented and like Giles, the possibility of being a one and done player is very high. Perhaps the most important of the incoming freshmen is PG Frank Jackson. Duke really struggled with their PG play last season, which really hampered the team, and especially in the NCAA tournament. Jackson is one of the top 5 incoming freshmen PG’s and should solidify the position. If he can play up to his ability, he will make the offense run smoothly.
Sophomore C Chase Jeter had a disappointing freshmen campaign. A highly regarded recruit, he never got going as a freshmen. He will need to improve and at the least, add depth to the frontcourt. This is where another talented freshmen comes into the mix. There was a fierce recruiting battle between Duke and Kentucky for Marques Bolden. Duke won out for his services and the center will probably start for the Blue Devils. He is extremely talented.
Matt Jones was a solid player last season as he averaged 10.4pts, 2.5reb, and 2.3ast while playing over 30 minutes a game. The junior SG will be asked along with Allen to be leaders of this very young Blue Devils team. Duke got good news when PF Amile Jefferson was approved for a medical hardship waiver. He only appeared in 9 games last season after breaking his right foot. He will provide depth and experience and leadership along with Allen and Jones. Sweet shooting G Luke Kennard (11.8pts) will provide 3 point shooting and overall scoring for a team that loves shooting the 3 point shot.
FINAL FOUR IF
This Duke team has an overwhelming abundance of talent. There are proven veterans and talented youngsters. Krzyzewski is going to have a hard task of divvying up playing time among all the talent he has. The Blue Devils can conceivably go 10-11 players deep. Keeping players happy is going to be a task all in itself, however if Coach K can keep the players of Team USA happy, he can do it for the 2016-17 version of the Blue Devils.
Point Guard depth is a concern as Jackson is a freshmen and there are no proven commodities behind him. Allen will have to play like he did without all the on court antics. He is too talented of a player to get caught up in unnecessary and immature behavior.
If the freshmen are as good as advertised, the Blue Devils should be ranked among the nation’s elite all season long. While they may lose more games than previous seasons due to all of the youth, Kryzyzewsi is all about preparing this team for March. The depth of talent is undeniable. If all the talent gels together around March, The Blue Devils have all the ingredients to be a Final 4 team and be playing on the last Monday of the college basketball season.
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