When it comes to recruiting in college basketball, nobody has it better than Mike Krzyzewski these days.
Think about it; Coach K has accomplished so much on the basketball court during his incredible coaching tenure that, in this day and age of unparalleled competitiveness, it’s silly.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of actually luring an elite high school basketball prospect to Duke, Krzyzewski can definitely flex his muscles in that department.
He can attract a player to Durham in a myriad of ways.
Here are five of them, in particular.
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, arguably two of the best basketball players on the planet for the past several years, have become big fans of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Much of their love for Coach K has emanated from the fact that they’ve won two gold medals while playing for him and Team USA in the past two summer Olympics (2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London).
But the Black Mamba’s infatuation with Duke’s legendary coach began well before the Olympics. It’s been well documented that had Bryant not gone directly to the NBA out of Philadelphia’s Lower Merion High School, he would’ve played for the Blue Devils.
And let’s not forget that it was Bryant himself who spearheaded the effort (albeit unsuccessfully) to lure Coach K to become the Lakers’ head coach back in 2004. Many young ballers aspire to play like the Black Mamba and King James—both of whom are NBA Finals MVPs.
I’m sure Coach K has mentioned how he has both Bryant and James in his Fave Five to recruits many times over the years.
Coach K embracing Tom Izzo after his record-setting 903rd victory.
Everyone loves a winner. And certainly the Duke men’s basketball team has won quite a lot during Mike Krzyzewski’s incredible three-decade tenure in Durham.
Certainly the fact that Coach K is a natural born winner is a major asset when he’s in the living room of a major high school player. Under Coach K’s guidance, Duke has won countless ACC titles and made numerous Final Four appearances.
In case you’re keeping track, the Blue Devils have won 13 ACC Championships and have appeared in a staggering 11 Final Fours during Krzyzewski’s 32 years at Duke. And, oh yeah, it certainly helps that Coach K can flash those four national title rings in front of a recruit.
That’s right, Krzyzewski has guided Duke to four national championships. That ties him with legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp in terms of most titles won as a Division 1 college basketball head coach. The two only trail the untouchable John Wooden (who won 10 with UCLA).
And the cherry on top has to be that no other college basketball coach has accumulated more wins than Coach K has; it’s at 927 and counting.
If you’re a big-time high school player and want to win, it’s very tough to turn down Krzyzewski and the Dukies.
The prospect of playing in the NBA is the top priority of many elite high school basketball players these days when it comes to picking where they’ll play college ball. But for many of these players’ parents, the top priority for where their kids will play college basketball still comes down to them getting the best education.
Outside of the Ivy League, very few institutions (if any) can match Duke in terms of academic prestige in America. That certainly works to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s advantage when it comes to appealing to a recruit’s parents.
Duke has often been called the “Harvard of the South.” Then again, so has the likes of Vanderbilt and the University of Miami. Still, if you’re ever called the Harvard of anything positive, that’s something you can utilize in terms of recruiting.
I’m sure Krzyzewski has beaten that dead horse a mile into the soil by now, and who can blame him?
So who’s the best college basketball coach alive today? Surely, defending national champion and master recruiter John Calipari of Kentucky is in the conversation.
As is championship coaches like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, UConn’s Jim Calhoun, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Florida’s Billy Donovan.
But the title of “best in the nation” has to go to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K is the sport’s all-time winningest head coach, having compiled a record 927 wins.
Not only that, but Krzyzewski’s Duke teams have won 13 ACC titles, made 11 Final Four appearances and have won four national titles. And in case you suddenly forgot about the recent London Olympics, Team USA won the gold medal in men’s basketball just a few weeks ago.
It’s their second consecutive gold medal, both of which were won with Krzyzewski at the helm.
Simply put, none of the aforementioned college basketball head coaches can boast a resume that rivals Krzyzewski’s.
Many of Duke’s elite players flop when they get to the NBA. That’s a running joke that’s been quite prevalent during much of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s legendary career in Durham.
While it’s tough to argue against that sentiment, it’s simultaneously difficult to argue against the fact that, over the past several years, many of Duke’s elite players have at the very least made it to the Association.
Chew on this: Duke is the only program to have three of its players drafted first overall into the NBA. That distinct trio consists of Art Heyman (1963), Elton Brand (1999) and Kyrie Irving (2011).
As far as the current NBA is concerned, 18 players are on NBA rosters these days. The list is highlighted by the most recent editions, pro rookies Austin Rivers (New Orleans Hornets) and Miles Plumlee (Indiana Pacers), who were both drafted in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft.
Certainly, Duke has had its fair share of NBA failures during the Coach K era (ex: Christian Laettner and Josh McRoberts).
But that failure often rests upon that particular player, not the college they came from.
When it comes to getting the NBA, Coach K is right up there with Kentucky coach John Calipari these days in preparing his players for the next level of basketball.