Duke Basketball: Blue Devils' Best-Ever Player at Each Position

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2013

Duke Basketball: Blue Devils' Best-Ever Player at Each Position

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    When names like Laettner, Redick, Battier, Hill, Williams and Hurley hang on retired jerseys in the rafters over the court, you have a program with rich basketball tradition, which is exactly what the Duke Blue Devils have.

    For a program with four national championships and over 2,000 wins, it's impossible to make a list of the best player at each position without leaving off a fantastic player. The honorable mentions could play the starting five on this list and have a great chance at winning.

    But as a fun topic for the offseason, let's look at the best-ever player at each position for the Blue Devils.

    Each player was considered based on the impact he had during his entire career at Duke, postseason success, and the context of the competition he played against.

Point Guard: Bobby Hurley

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    Bobby Hurley is regarded as one of the greatest point guards in the history of NCAA basketball.

    He played at Duke from 1989-1993 and helped the Blue Devils reach three final fours during his career. He also played a large role in Duke's back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992.

    Hurley is known for hitting a huge basket late in the game against UNLV in the national semifinal in 1991 and also for his performance in the 1992 Final Four, which earned him the 1992 Final Four Most Outstanding Player award.

    His 1,076 career assists are still an NCAA record and Hurley's ability to distribute the ball is something that may never be duplicated. However, he was more than just a passer, which is evident by his averaging 40-percent shooting from beyond the three point line during his career.

    As an All American and two-time national champion, Bobby Hurley is the gold standard of point guards for Duke.

    Honorable Mention: Jason Williams

Shooting Guard: Johnny Dawkins

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    Johnny Dawkins arrived at Duke in 1982 as a member of the recruiting class that helped Mike Krzyzewski lay the foundation for the success he's had over the years.

    During his four years as a Blue Devil, Dawkins averaged 19.2 points per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field. He held the record for points scored in a career at Duke with 2,556 until J.J. Redick broke his record in 2006.

    However, it's worth noting that Dawkins played three years at Duke before the three-point shot was incorporated into the college game.

    Dawkins was also a two time first-team All American and the National Player of the Year in 1986, which is the same year Duke won 37 games and reached the national championship before losing to Louisville.

    Considering his success and the era in which he did it, there is probably no player more instrumental in building the Duke program than Johnny Dawkins.

    Honorable Mention: J.J. Redick

Small Forward: Grant Hill

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    Grant Hill was another member of the back-to-back championship teams in 1991 and 1992. He nearly led another young Duke team to a third title in 1994 before losing to Arkansas in the national championship game.

    Hill was one of the most versatile players to ever put on the Duke uniform. At 6'8", 225 pounds, he had the ability to guard anyone on the court and he could score from anywhere on the court.

    In one of the great defensive performances in Duke history, Hill helped Duke reach the 1994 Final Four by defeating Glenn Robinson and Purdue in the Elite Eight. Hill held Robinson to only 13 points, which was a season low for Robinson, who averaged 30.3 points and won the Wooden Award that season.

    His unique talent and hard work led him to become the first player in ACC history with more than 1,900 points, 700 rebounds, 400 assists, 200 steals and 100 blocked shots.

    Grant Hill is the type of player who would be one of the best in any era of college basketball.

    Honorable Mention: Art Heyman

Power Forward: Shane Battier

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    Shane Battier did everything for the Blue Devils.

    He could knock down the outside shot. He had a solid mid-range game. He could finish around the basket. He could rebound the ball. He is one of the best defenders to ever play the game of basketball at any level.

    And while he was doing all of this on the court, he was also a tremendous leader.

    During his time at Duke, Battier led the Blue Devils to a national championship in 2001 and also served as a valuable role player on the team that reached the title game in 1999.

    He was a three-time National Defensive Player of the Year, two-time Academic All-American and the 2001 National Player of the Year.

    With the success he had and the way he conducted himself, Shane Battier is one of many former players Duke fans can always be proud of.

    Honorable Mention: Danny Ferry

Center: Christian Laettner

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    Considering he's one of the greatest NCAA basketball players of all-time, Christian Laettner certainly deserves a spot in this starting lineup for the Blue Devils.

    For his career, Laettner averaged 16.6 points while shooting 57-percent from the field and over 48-percent from beyond the three-point line, making him one of the most versatile and efficient players in Duke's history.

    Laettner played at Duke from 1988-1992 and played in the Final Four in each of his four seasons. He was responsible for sending Duke to two of those final four appearances with buzzer beaters in the Elite Eight—against UConn in 1990 and Kentucky in 1992.

    His postseason success earned him a spot on Sports Illustrated's list of the best NCAA tournament players in history.

    Honorable Mention: Mike Gminski

    Who would you put in your starting five of all-time Blue Devils? Leave your list in the comments section below.