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The "What Ifs" of Duke Basketball: John Wall

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils gives instruction from the bench during their second round NCAA Tournament game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at the Charlotte Coliseum on March 20, 2005 in Charlotte, North Carolina. With the 63-55 victory over Mississippi State, Kryzewski surpassed Dean Smith as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Tournament history.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Justin McTeerCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2009

It's a popular opinion that the Duke program is in a state of free-fall.

It isn't.

The Blue Devils didn't have the season fans were hoping for, but they made progress.  

In 2007, they won 22 games and lost in the first round of the ACC and NCAA tournament.

In 2008, they won 28 games and made it to the semifinals of the ACC tournament before losing in the second round of the NCAAs.

This year, Duke won 30 games on their way to an ACC title and a return to the Sweet 16.

Vintage Duke?  Not quite.

A step in the right direction?  Absolutely.

With the season over, Duke is looking to continue its steady (albeit slow) climb back to the top of college basketball, and they are looking for a point guard to lead the charge.

Their hope is currently directed to the nation's top unsigned 2009 recruit, John Wall.

Wall has been targeted by Duke ever since Kenny Boynton chose Florida late last year, but most experts have believed the Blue Devils have, at best, an outside chance at landing the future NBA player.

But that could all change as Wall made his first official visit to Duke for a sit-down with Coach K on Sunday.

 

What if John Wall commits to Duke?

Duke's point guard problems have been front and center in the media's coverage of the Blue Devils over the past few seasons.

Greg Paulus was supposed to be the best point guard to enter college basketball in the 2005-06 season, but he never lived up to that billing.

Nolan Smith was brought in as a promising understudy for Paulus, but after two years, it's clear that running the point isn't his specialty.

Jon Scheyer did well taking care of the ball as the third option at the point this season for the Blue Devils, but he doesn't have the speed or skill set to run the Blue Devils' desired brand of fast break-oriented offense.

John Wall, simply put, would be the answer for Duke's point guard problems.

He has ridiculous speed, great court vision, explosive athleticism, and incredible scoring ability.

Wall would bring Duke back into legitimate Final Four contention.  He would transform Duke's already solid recruiting class of Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly (Wall's AAU teammate) into its best recruiting class in years.

Getting Wall would be a momentous event for the Blue Devils, who have lost out on four top recruits in as many years with Brandan Wright, Patrick Patterson, Greg Monroe, and Kenny Boynton all opting for other schools— they might be due for a recruiting battle to go their way.


What if Wall Doesn't Come to Duke?

If Wall goes elsewhere (and Duke certainly isn't in the lead for his services), the Blue Devils will still need to find an answer for their point guard woes.

Unsigned point guard prospect Eric Bledsoe is a player that has come into the Duke recruiting discussion, but questions about his academic eligibility have come up recently.

Nolan Smith could still develop into a solid distributor, but he's more natural as a shooting guard.

Of course, Jon Scheyer could resume his recent stay at the position, but Duke would need to develop into a half-court oriented team in order for that to work. With Duke's post deficiencies still an issue (Mason Plumlee might be an instant boost in that area next year, but that's not guaranteed), playing a slower brand of offense probably isn't Duke's best path to another Final Four.

John Wall could be the best thing to happen to Duke basketball since Jason Williams rode into Durham nearly 10 years ago.

His recruitment will certainly be a priority for Coach K in the upcoming weeks, and a lot is riding on his decision for one of the top programs in college basketball.

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