Shabazz Muhammad, one of the nation's top recruits, made his college decision Wednesday night. It came down to Kentucky, Duke and UCLA; and Muhammad decided to stay closer to home, picking the UCLA Bruins.
The consensus opinion was that the race would come down to Kentucky and Duke with UCLA expected to finish a distant third. Ultimately, Muhammad made an extremely impressive decision by picking the history and the challenge associated with UCLA.
While Kentucky will have a shot at Nerlens Noel later tonight, Duke will have to hope that at least one of the other two unsigned stars will pick Durham. While signing Tony Parker or Amile Jefferson will definitely help the Blue Devils, missing out on Muhammad is a tough pill to swallow.
So where does this leave Duke for next season?
- Currently, Rasheed Sulaimon is the only incoming freshman signed for next season.
- Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee will be in their first year of eligibility after sitting out this season as redshirts.
- Austin Rivers has declared for the NBA Draft, taking his team-high 15.5 points per game with him.
- Duke currently lacks a true go-to scorer. Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry are talented, but do their best work with jump shots.
Duke will need to land either Jefferson or Parker to save this year's recruiting class, although Murphy and Marshall Plumlee will essentially be new players. Also, the return of Mason Plumlee is huge as it will give the Blue Devils an experienced player in the low post.
None of those players will fill the need for a go-to scorer, however. Muhammad would have filled that need in the biggest way, using his strength to get into the lane and create drive-and-kick opportunities for Dawkins and Curry.
The best-case scenario for Duke headed into 2013 starts with signing Jefferson, continues with Mason Plumlee becoming a go-to scorer in the post, gets better with Cook developing into the drive-and-kick point guard Mike Krzyzewski loves and ends with Dawkins and Curry being the knock-down shooters they are capable of being.
Losing out on Muhammad makes life a bit more difficult for everyone in Durham heading into next season, but maybe that is exactly what these players need.