Duke Basketball: The 5 Most Impressive Blue Devils in 2013-14 So Far

David Aldridge@davidmaldridgeFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2013

Duke Basketball: The 5 Most Impressive Blue Devils in 2013-14 So Far

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    This first part of the 2013-14 season for the Duke basketball program has been about getting a young team to grow together as many players learn new roles.

    As Mike Krzyzewski said following Saturday’s win over Eastern Michigan, “When you start out with a different team early on, you have to give it time to grow. I think we’re growing.”

    Some Blue Devils have shown faster growth than others and are off to great starts in the 2013-14 season.

    The following list looks at the five most impressive Blue Devils at this point of the season.

5. Amile Jefferson

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    While he got off to a slow start in Duke’s first couple games, Amile Jefferson is starting to emerge as a rebounding force.

    He’s grabbed 31 rebounds in the past three games, and his defensive rebounding percentage is now up to 25.4.

    With teams electing to play more zone defense against Duke in an attempt to slow down Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, it’s created more opportunities for Jefferson to attack the glass and collect missed shots.

    It took him a few games to get acclimated, but Jefferson is now showing why the coaching staff was so excited about his potential coming into the 2013-14 season.

4. Quinn Cook

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    He’s flown under the radar because of all the attention being given to his teammates, but Quinn Cook has been a fantastic distributor for the Blue Devils this season.

    Cook leads the ACC in assists per game at 6.2, and he also has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3-to-1.

    Though his shooting has been inconsistent, the junior point guard has excelled in the role of finding the playmakers around him.

    His defense is also beginning to improve, which is evidenced by the fact that he’s recorded 15 steals in the past three games.

3. Andre Dawkins

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    Even if you’re not a Duke a fan, it’s hard not to root for Andre Dawkins and be happy for him with the great year he’s having as a redshirt senior.

    Dawkins has overcome tremendous adversity off the court and appears to be flourishing in his role as a veteran and offensive specialist this season.

    He’s averaging 9.1 points in only 13.4 minutes per game and ranks second in the ACC in three-point shooting at 48.1 percent.

    Dawkins’ perimeter shooting skills make him an ideal fit for Duke’s offense as many defenses focus on stopping dribble penetration, which leads to open looks for the senior sharpshooter.

    Through this point in the season, Dawkins has made the most of those opportunities.

2. Rodney Hood

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    There was talk in the preseason that Rodney Hood might be the most impactful transfer in the country for the 2013-14 season, and his play certainly supports that notion.

    Hood has transitioned wonderfully to the Duke program and has been one of the most consistent performers on the team.

    He’s averaging 17.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting over 54 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from beyond the three-point line.

    It seems like Hood always does a great job of letting the game come to him and waiting for his time to attack, which is part of why his offense has been so efficient.

1. Jabari Parker

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    Jabari Parker hasn’t just been the most impressive Blue Devil in the 2013-14 season.

    He’s also been the most impressive freshman in college basketball and arguably the most impressive player in college basketball.

    The 6’8”, 235-pound forward has shown why he was one of the most highly touted recruits in the country over the past four years and why he has a great chance to be taken with one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA draft.

    Whether it’s leading a fast break, hitting deep perimeter shots, attacking the rim or showing off his mid-range game, Parker has been unstoppable for the Blue Devils.