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A large part of me was tempted to rank Quinn Cook slightly higher on this list. That was mainly due to the fact that I strongly feel he is the most vital piece to the puzzle for Duke to claim its fifth national championship.
In any case, I decided to place Cook comfortably behind the senior trio of Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee.
From his freshman campaign to his sophomore season, Cook has made a tremendous leap forward in his development. While he didn't begin the year as the starting point guard, it took him all of three games to assume the role.
And he never looked back.
Cook finished the regular season averaging 12.5 points and 5.3 assists in 33.8 minutes per game. He also finished third for Duke in three-point percentage with 42.5 percent—which is up 17.5 percent from a year ago.
Despite two sporadic shooting performances early in conference play against Wake Forest (0-for-11) and Miami (1-for-12), Cook was still able to facilitate the basketball at a high rate, accumulating 9.5 assists in those contests.
And that is where he is at his very best.
His scoring is an added bonus. When Cook is able to get the whole team involved into the offensive flow, Duke becomes a well-oiled machine.
Point guard leadership is crucial in making a run to a championship. Plain and simple, Cook becomes a hero for Duke by just being great.
Which, if you were to sum up his entire season to this point, the word "great" fits perfectly.