Duke Basketball: 7 Young Players Who Could Keep the Blue Devils Relevant in 2012

Sam DrakeCorrespondent IApril 3, 2012

Duke Basketball: 7 Young Players Who Could Keep the Blue Devils Relevant in 2012

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    This past season for the Duke Blue Devils was filled with many up-and-down moments. Now that it is over, Duke fans across the nation can get prepared for the next group of young Blue Devils to take over Cameron Indoor Stadium and Coach K Court.

    These players, ranging from current freshmen to recruits to prospects, will bring life into this team and hopefully launch them down a path toward the National Championship game in Atlanta next year.

    While Duke has many pieces still on the team, like Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins and maybe Mason Plumlee, these young players will help Duke stay relevant next year.

Shabazz Muhammad

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    Status: Unsigned

    Shabazz Muhammad is one of the nations top recruit for the 2012 class.

    He is left-handed and has an amazing ability to attack and score at the rim. Once he gets within 15 feet of the basket, he can either hit a jumper with amazing accuracy or drive and score. 

    He uses his length to great ability on the defensive side of the ball. This enables him to be a lock-down defender and can guard multiple positions.

    He needs to work on his right hand and become more consistent beyond his 15-foot range, especially his three-point range.

    If he becomes a Blue Devil, he will make an immediate impact and be a great complement to the outside shooting of Curry, Dawkins and Kelly.

Amile Jefferson

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    Status: Unsigned

    At 6'7", 190 pounds, Amile Jefferson is, at first glance, an undersized power forward. All he needs to develop to be considered a combo-forward is a better jump shot.

    Jefferson has a great feel for the game and superb length which allows him to rebound and block shots both inside and outside of his area. He can finish at the rim with both of his hands and can drive along the baseline with tremendous confidence.

    Since he is under 200 pounds at the power forward position, he is sometimes unable to play through contact. He must add some mass to his frame if he wants to become better. If he can further develop his jump shot, he could be an extremely good player.

Tony Parker

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    Status: Unsigned

    Tony Parker is one of the better big men in this class. At 6'9", 270 pounds, he is, indeed, very big.

    He uses his size to throw around smaller players down low and when he catches the ball, he has the ability to make a left jump hook. He is also very good facing the basket within 15 feet. His hands allow him to catch a wide variety of passes thrown to him on the post.

    Because he weighs 270 pounds, there are of course some concerns about his stamina and if he is able to play in the much more demanding college game. He also has the ability to dominate the game, but there are times when he gets tired and does not play as hard.

Rasheed Sulaimon

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    Status: Signed

    Rasheed Sulaimon is the first and only commitment that Duke has so far this year.

    He is a shooting guard that can score in a variety of ways. He is most comfortable when he is driving to the basket where he can easily finish at the rim or stop and hit a short jumper. He possesses a great first step toward the basket, which can easily get defenders off-balance.

    Sulaimon is streaky at best when it comes to three-point shooting, although opposing defenses must respect the fact that he can hit two or three in a row. He can sometimes rush a possession, which can lead to turnovers or bad shots. He also will gamble on defense and pick up bad fouls.

    He has a great upside and is a long and skilled player as a wing. His high energy level will be put to great use by Coach K.

Marshall Plumlee

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    Status: Current Freshmen

    Unlike his two older brothers, Marshall Plumlee is more of a traditional big man. He does not possess the same type of athleticism that both Miles and Mason have. He is more comfortable within a range of five feet around the basket, but can step out and hit a 12-15 foot jumper. He can rebound very will inside his immediate area and has the ability to change shots.

    He must fill out his frame, which is only 215 pounds. Rebounding outside his area is a skill that he needs to improve as well as becoming a more physical player.

Alex Murphy

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    Status: Current Freshmen

    Alex Murphy's listed position is small forward, but he has both the size and skill to play both forward positions. He has great athleticism in the open court and runs very well in space, which allows him to get to the basket and finish.

    He has tremendous handles and passing ability for a player his size. His basketball IQ creates for a nightmare for opposing defenders. 

    The biggest problem for Murphy is that he needs to figure out what position he can defend. If he is to guard the four position, then he must add more strength. If he is going to guard the three position, then he must improve his quickness.

    He is not quite as good of a scorer in the half court compared to breakaway opportunities. Also, he has to develop a three-point shot to become even more of a offensive threat. 

Michael Gbinije

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    Status: Current Freshmen

    What makes Michael Gbinije a unique player is his ability to play selfless basketball. He does what is best for the team, whether that's passing the ball or setting screens for other players. He has a good grasp of the game already as well as being very mature for his age.

    He plays the small forward position and has a good, solid frame. He has a very fluid game and a good jump shot that has a range to just inside the three-point line.

    He lacks an explosive first step to the basket and his intensity levels are not quite consistent throughout an entire game. He needs to improve his three-point shooting and his ability to defend.