Duke Basketball: 4 Reasons Recruits Keep Snubbing Coach K and the Blue Devils
For one reason or another, Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils have not been among the best recruiting schools in college hoops over the last few years.
While they have had their share of talented players, including Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers, there is no denying that Duke's level of talent coming in has looked weak compared to the likes of Kentucky.
Still, the Blue Devils have been able to compete with these powerhouse recruiting schools. That brings up the question of why other schools with similar levels of success have better ranked recruits coming in.
This article will examine why the highest ranked college basketball recruits continually snub Coach K and the Blue Devils.
The Culture of Duke
Undeniably, there is a culture that surrounds Duke basketball unlike any other team.
The team is often thought of as a group of nonathletic, fundamentally sound players. While that's great for winning basketball games, as Duke has and will continue to do, it may not help bring in certain high-level recruits.
Basically, Duke Basketball has no swagger, at least according to most people I've talked with. Instead of high flying dunks, they make the correct passes, shoot a lot from beyond the arc and play team basketball.
That may or may not be true, but it is definitely the way that Duke is thought of by many. Just look at Jalen Rose's comments on ESPN's First Take.
Despite the Blue Devil's brand of basketball being proven to work, it simply does not attract certain types of flashy kids like Nerlens Noel, who announced his decision to attend the University of Kentucky via a haircut.
The point is that Duke's reputation hurts them with some recruits. Blue Devils fans shouldn't care because it hasn't stopped the team from winning, but the point remains.
The Team Rarely Features Freshman
This is an important point in the time of the one-and-done player.
Most highly ranked players come into college looking to get a lot of playing time as freshman since they have their eyes set on the NBA. Both of Duke's highest-ranked recruits from the last two seasons left after their first year and were drafted in the first round of the NBA draft.
Still, it is not common for Duke to play its freshman more than sparingly. Last season, No. 35 ranked Marshall Plumlee sat out the season while No. 29 Michael Gbinije averaged only 5.8 minutes per game.
Further back than that, Duke freshman Nolan Smith, who was ranked No. 6 in 2007, only played 14.7 minutes per game. For a reference point, No. 8 on that list was Michael Beasley and No. 5 was Derrick Rose.
Basically, Duke isn't a great place for freshman to go if they want to be guaranteed starters minutes. Because of that, the Blue Devils lose out on a lot of the top recruits who are hoping to go one-and-done.
Dukes Offense Does Not Lead to Great Individual Statistics
Coach K has built his legacy around strong team performances, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the court.
That includes a lot of kicking the ball out to open three-point shooters, as well as extra passes to the open man.
While Krzyzewski's style has proven effective, it also forces players to rely on their teammates and play less isolation. This affects Duke recruiting because a lot of highly-ranked players want to be able to showcase their talents in order to improve their draft stock.
That point is made obvious by Duke's experience with Austin Rivers last year, who seemed determined to take over games by himself. Most college basketball fans know how that one ended up.
Once again, this isn't exactly a bad thing for Duke. They have been able to earn their bread by playing team basketball with slightly less talented players. Still, it must be noted how Duke's team-style basketball affects its recruiting.
Duke Is Not Known for Its NBA Products
Despite all of their winning, Duke has rarely produced players that make it in the NBA.
While that has changed lately with the likes of Austin Rivers and Kyrie Irving, Duke still has a reputation for not sending successful players to the next big stage.
That sort of thing has to weigh on the minds of high school players, who look at college as a necessary step to their dreams of playing basketball at the highest level.
There is no doubt that some of the blame for this issue should be put on Coach K, because he is coaching players for their college careers instead of what comes after. It's hard to blame someone for doing their job so well, but still, that must be taken into consideration by recruits when deciding on colleges.
Like most issues with Duke's recruiting, it comes down to the focus of the program. Instead of preparing recruits for the NBA, Coach K teaches them how to win in college and how to become better as men.
Sure they may lose out on some of the top recruits in the process, but Duke is continuing to win and they are doing it their way.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!