Duke Basketball Recruiting: 2014 Class Has History-Making Potential

Tim KeeneyContributor IApril 2, 2014

McDonald's West All-American Jahlil Okafor, of Chicago, competes in the skills contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest at the University of Chicago in Chicago, on Monday, March 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)
Andrew Nelles

One-and-done players haven't translated into team success for Mike Krzyzewski. 

In 2010, Coach K recruited a kid named Kyrie Irving. The explosive point guard spent much of the season injured, however, and although the Blue Devils nabbed a No. 1 seed, they were ousted in the Sweet 16 by Derrick Williams and No. 5 Arizona. 

In 2011, Austin Rivers provided a dynamic replacement for Irving and will forever be remembered in Duke lore for his shot against North Carolina in the Dean Dome. But that season, the No. 2 Blue Devils ran into C.J. McCollum and No. 15 Lehigh, falling victim to one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. 

Andrew Nelles

This season, Jabari Parker was transcendent, a jaw-droppingly versatile offensive weapon who ended up joining four seniors on the AP All-America first team. Once again, though, an early exit was the final result, this time at the hands of 14th seed Mercer. 

Krzyzewski's last three one-and-done players have been at the helm of three of his most disappointing tournament finishes. But it would be lazy to assign any type of correlation between the two, and it would be wrong for Coach K—a known disputant of the one-and-done rule—to stop recruiting those kind of players.

He knows that. 

"If you're placed in that position where one or two of the best players in the United States were great kids, great players and wanted to come to your school, you'd have to be an idiot to say no," he told reporters, via The News & Observer. 

Jim R. Bounds

Fortunately, Coach K is no idiot. 

Despite the lack of postseason success for his past one-and-done players, he will bring in two more potential ones in Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, who headline what is currently ranked by 247Sports as the best 2014 class in the country.  

Okafor, who follows in the footsteps of Parker as a Chicago native to win the Morgan Wootten Player of the Year award, is arguably the top recruit in America, and it's not really a difficult argument. 

Standing at 6'11" and weighing 270 pounds, he has a tantalizing blend of physical tools and beyond-his-age polish. USA Today's Jason Jordan put it simply after watching Okafor during Tuesday's McDonald's All-American practice: 

As an incredibly skilled offensive player with a high basketball IQ and impressive maturity, it won't be hard for Okafor to make an immediate impact in Durham. 

Having a point guard who has been his good friend since third grade might just help the transition, too. 

Jones, the sixth-best player and second-best point guard in the class, is a true point guard with quickness who can get to the hoop and distribute.

The pairing of Jones and Okafor, alone, would make up one of the best classes in the country, but the addition of fellow Mickey-D's All-Americans Justise Winslow and Grayson Allen could make it one of the most productive we've seen in recent history. 

Winslow's best asset is his defense, as he has the size (6'6" and a chiseled 210 lbs), strength and athleticism to guard a variety of positions. He's a bit raw offensively, but as a player who gives maximum effort and does the little things, he has the look of a true role player. 

Oh, and the "forgotten" member of the class is Allen, a deadly outside shooter who just so happens to be able to do this (that's Jones and Winslow he's flying over):

And this (that's Okafor):

Yep, that's your 6'4" shooting guard winning a dunk contest with the best high school athletes in the world. 

No. 2 center Myles Turner is still in play for the Blue Devils, but no matter where he eventually lands, Mike Krzyzewski has a class that has a chance to go down as one of the best ever. 

And he'll likely have some one-and-dones to thank for that.