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This low grade isn’t anyone’s fault really; it’s just the way college basketball works these days.
It’s pretty clear that things are bright in regard to Duke’s short-term prospects. Next season’s team will be an embarrassment of riches. However, modern college basketball doesn’t allow a team to hold on to top prospects for very long.
Jabari Parker is most likely a one-and-done player bound for the NBA. By all accounts, Rodney Hood anticipates heading to the NBA after one year at Duke. So they’ll both basically have one foot out the door from day one.
Also, at the end of next season, both Thornton and Hairston will graduate. The woes could continue because Quinn Cook has improved drastically as a sophomore, and it’s not hard to imagine him leaving for the pros after his junior season. The loss of both Thornton and Cook would leave Duke without a point guard.
Another potential early entry is Rasheed Sulaimon. He’s already shown his vast potential, and even though he seems happy at Duke, he could potentially flee the college scene after a second year as a Blue Devil.
That would leave Duke with Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy, Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones and Semi Ojeleye. While those are five good players, a mass NBA exodus could leave the cupboard bare down the bench.
Coach K and his staff are already looking to prepare for the future by targeting class of 2014 recruits Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones.
Okafor might be the best player of the 2014 class and would provide Duke with a top-notch center. Jones, meanwhile, is one of the nation’s best point guards. It’d be great if Duke could land both prospects since they’d fill the Blue Devils’ upcoming vacancies at point guard and center. Unfortunately, top recruits attract a ton of attention, and Duke is just one of many teams in the running for their commitments.
The nature of basketball’s ridiculous, and frankly unconstitutional, requirement that everyone attend at least one year of college creates so much instability that long-term planning is impossible. When even programs like Duke are staring down the barrel of having to replace over half its roster due to early draft entries, it’s evident that the system is broken.
So, even though Duke gets a low grade with respect to the long-term outlook due to troubling vacancies at point guard and center and the potential of a blight of early NBA draft entries, the low grade is more reflective of basketball’s systematically stupid disregard for player development.