And then the rich got richer.
Duke is college basketball royalty and almost always a contender for the Final Four and beyond, but it locked itself in as a championship favorite for the 2014-15 season Friday with a couple of decisions from high school students who haven’t even been to senior prom yet.
Jahlil Okafor, who is the No. 1 recruit in the country for the class of 2014 according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, and Tyus Jones, who is No. 5 in those same rankings, both decided to take their talents to Duke Friday. They chose Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils over Kansas and Baylor.
It had long been rumored that Okafor and Jones were a package deal, and the two friends followed through with their final decisions.
Okafor is the best low-post scorer in this class thanks to a plethora of moves he can unleash on opposing defenders in the paint. Furthermore, he is a formidable rebounder, can block shots and has developed a soft touch around the rim and from mid-range. He is even an impressive passer, which will help when defenses collapse in on him down low.
Jones will give Duke a steadying hand at the point guard position. He is an excellent passer who is comfortable in transition or a half-court set and always seems to make the right play for his team. That is why you will constantly hear him described as a point guard with a high basketball IQ. Jones can also score himself and has shooting range that expands beyond the three-point line.
Just by taking a quick glance at the Blue Devils roster going forward, it becomes apparent why the Jones and Okafor decisions make them so formidable for the 2014-15 campaign.
Let’s assume that superstar freshman Jabari Parker is NBA-bound after this year. He proved just how capable he is against elite competition in the Champions Classic showdown with Kansas and will continue to do so for the remainder of the season. Even without Parker, Coach K will have Rodney Hood, Rasheed Sulaimon, Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson all in place when the freshmen-to-be arrive.
In fact, of those four players, only Cook will be a senior in 2014-15. Now throw in Krzyzewski’s 2014 recruiting class of Okafor, Jones and Grayson Allen, who is a 4-star wing in his own right according to 247Sports, and the Blue Devils are loaded at every position going forward.
The one thing that has been crippling for Duke the past couple of years is rebounding. It is currently 347th in the nation this year in total rebounding (in an admittedly ridiculous small sample size) and was 210th last season. Okafor gives the Blue Devils an immediate solution to that problem.
No team in the country will be able to match the talent level Duke will put on the court between Okafor, Jones, Allen, Cook, Hood, Sulaimon and Jefferson in 2014-15. Just imagine if Parker shocks us all and elects to stay in school for another year.
Be prepared to watch the Blue Devils cut down the nets in March of 2015.