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Are Coach K and Duke Basketball Losing Their Luster with Recruits?

Ben LaymanCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2012

Are Coach K and Duke Basketball Losing Their Luster with Recruits?

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    It's undeniable—players who go through the Duke Blue Devils basketball program come out as better players. But is that enough of a pitch to recruit the top high school players in the country any more?

    Coach Mike Krzyzewski has put together great Duke teams who buy into his program of fundamental basketball. His teams gel together quickly, and his influence is always apparent.

    With two national championships in the past 12 seasons, it's hard to complain about the status of Duke basketball.

    However, Duke's inability to recruit with the other top programs in the country begs the question: Are Coach Krzyzewski and Duke losing their luster with recruits?

    The Duke Blue Devils' reputation as a college basketball powerhouse hasn't translated to landing enough of the top high school basketball recruits in recent years.

    Here are a few ways the Blue Devils are losing their luster with recruits.

Coach K's Tough Reputation

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    Coach K's Army background and Bob Knight influence have certainly given him an edge that not many other college basketball coaches possess. It's allowed him to run Duke's program efficiently and helped him to minimize the amount of issues he would have needed to deal with otherwise, both on and off the court.

    It's worth asking at this point if there are times when Coach K's hard-nosed reputation catches up with him in the recruiting process.

    There's no way to prove it, as recruits rarely cite reasons for choosing against certain schools. But it's worth asking if Coach K is willing to pander to recruits to the extent that other schools do.

    The Duke Blue Devils have won plenty of games without top-10 recruits. It's possible Coach K feels it's best to stick with the program's current approach and hope the top recruits follow.

Other Schools' Emergence

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    The rise of other basketball programs in the country has given the perception that Duke is losing its luster with recruits.

    The Kentucky Wildcats, UCLA Bruins, Baylor Bears and Arizona Wildcats have each done an exceptional job recruiting top high school basketball talent in recent classes, effectively enhancing their programs on the national scene.

    It remains to be seen if bringing in this talent will translate to conference titles, but it looks as if these schools will be loaded for now and the future.

    College basketball fans shouldn't hold these schools' recruiting successes against programs like Duke. The Blue Devils will still be as competitive in the ACC when it comes to recruiting as they have been in the past.

Are They Really Losing Their Luster?

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    The Blue Devils have still managed to add a couple of impact recruits to their 2012 recruiting class.

    The Blue Devils will integrate freshman Rasheed Sulaimon into their guard rotation this year. Sulaimon was the 18th-ranked recruit in the nation in 2012 by Rivals.com, and as high as No. 12 by ESPN.com.

    The Blue Devils also landed freshman Amile Jefferson, who Scout.com ranked as the 21st overall recruit in the country in 2012. Jefferson will also step into Duke's rotation as a freshman.

    Despite not landing a top-10 recruit in 2012, Coach K still found two players in the top 25 who fit the Blue Devils' disciplined style.

How Much Does It Matter?

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    The Duke Blue Devils were hoisting the national championship trophy no less than three years ago, so it's worth asking if losing their luster is going to cost them in the all-important win column.

    Most schools would be so fortunate to have just one championship trophy. Coach K has steered Duke in a positive direction since day one, so it's hard to complain if there have been a few off-years in recruiting.

    Further, landing top recruits is no guarantee that the player will take off as a freshman and become the next Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose or Carmelo Anthony.

    If national championships and winning doesn't attract certain prospects, then those likely aren't prospects Coach K would be interested in anyway.

    Duke will again be one of the top teams in the ACC in 2012, which will surprise no one in the college basketball world.

    Coach K has built the program up enough to sustain its level of dominance, even if the team isn't recruiting top-10 talent every year.

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