Chase Jeter to Duke: Predicting Blue Devils' 2015-16 Rotation
The 2014-15 season is still three months away, but the Duke Blue Devils already scored a huge win for the 2015-16 season with Monday night's commitment from Chase Jeter, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN (via Bleacher Report's R. Cory Smith)—the 10th overall player in the 2015 class, according to 247Sports.
It's a pretty safe bet that Jeter will start from day one, but what will the rest of Mike Krzyzewski's rotation look like 15 months from now?
Even if we assume that Jahlil Okafor is a one-and-done player and that Rasheed Sulaimon may forgo his senior season for the NBA, Duke is still going to have one of the most talented rosters in the country.
Here's our predictions for the Blue Devils' starting five for the 2015-16 season, as well as a few "honorable mentions" who will serve as huge contributors off the bench.
Point Guard: Tyus Jones
We can argue until we're blue in the face over whether Tyus Jones or Quinn Cook will start at point guard in 2014-15, but this upcoming season will be Cook's final year of college eligibility.
If Jones doesn't join Okafor on the one-and-done train, there's no question he'll be the starter two years from now.
Of course, that's a pretty big "if." Draft Express has Jones projected as a late lottery pick in 2015. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman listed Jones as the 20th overall pick in his 2015 mock draft.
But I think we'll get at least two seasons out of Jones.
Though he is one of the top incoming freshmen in the country, he isn't cut quite from the same mold as Kyrie Irving was before playing 11 college games and jumping to the NBA. If anything, he strikes me more as a Nolan Smith with better court vision.
Also, true point guards simply don't often leave for the NBA after one year. Tyler Ennis was the only freshman point guard to make the leap this past season, and many of us questioned that decision. The year before that, Archie Goodwin was the only freshman point guard to declare for the draft, and he hasn't amounted to much yet.
After his sophomore season, anything is fair game. But for that sophomore season, he'll be one of the primary catalysts leading Duke to another 30-win season.
Shooting Guard: Grayson Allen
Not surprisingly, Duke has a ton of options at shooting guard.
We're assuming here that Sulaimon leaves after his junior season. If he doesn't, there's little question that he'll be the starting shooting guard as a senior.
If we were going to see "starting material" from Jones, you have to think we would have at least caught a glimpse of it this past season. There were plenty of opportunities for him to play, with Sulaimon in the doghouse early in the season, Andre Dawkins serving as a great shooter but horrible defender and Tyler Thornton serving as a great defender but dreadful scorer.
In his time on the court, Jones managed to shoot just 3-of-21 from three-point range. Over the final 16 games of the season, he played just 65 minutes, only once logging more than seven minutes in any game.
Unless he has a similarly dreadful freshman season, let's go ahead and assume that Grayson Allen is the one in the driver's seat for the starting shooting guard job. But considering he won the 2014 McDonald's All-American Slam Dunk Contest and is regarded as one of the best three-point shooters in this year's class, it seems pretty unlikely that he'll have a bad year.
He may get limited minutes this year in the backcourt behind Sulaimon, Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook, but he should be a starter once there's enough room in the lineup for him.
Small Forward: Justise Winslow
By far the least talked about player in Duke's 2014 recruiting class, Justise Winslow is going to be a stud at small forward.
In his four seasons at St. John's High School, Winslow averaged 23.9 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.2 SPG and 2.0 BPG, per MaxPreps.
If those numbers even remotely translate to the college level, he could be the type of total package that Mike Dunleavy Jr. was back at the turn of the millennium.
If they don't translate, though, I'm not sure what the backup plan is in terms of a conventional small forward. Krzyzewski may very well add another 5-star small forward before the 2015-16 season begins, but Semi Ojeleye is the only other real option at this point in time—and he played all of 80 minutes last season.
Of course, a three-guard lineup with Tyus Jones, Allen and Kennard certainly wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Power Forward: Amile Jefferson
If nothing else, this roster could use a little veteran leadership.
Aside from Amile Jefferson as a senior, it's looking like Duke will be starting three sophomores and a freshman. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it certainly never hurts to have someone who is a leader both in the locker room and on the court.
On an undersized roster, Jefferson blossomed in a huge way this past season. He recorded at least seven rebounds in 16 different games last year—all after mid-December.
Sulaimon's time in Krzyzewski's doghouse was well-documented, but Jefferson also played his way out of the starting lineup early in the year. After starting the first six games, he spent the next eight coming off the bench until it finally became undeniable that he was much more valuable than Josh Hairston.
In fact, Jefferson was one of the most valuable players in the country. Despite that slow start to the year, he finished the season with the 16th-highest O-rating in the country, according to KenPom.com (subscription required).
Duke went 18-2 in games where Jefferson had at least five points and five rebounds.
Sean Obi will battle for minutes after transferring in from Rice, but this is Jefferson's job until he graduates.
Center: Chase Jeter
Poor Marshall Plumlee can't catch a break.
With the signing of Chase Jeter, not to mention the foot injuries that caused him to redshirt as a freshman and miss a ton of his official freshman year, Plumlee's four seasons at Duke will end up being spent behind Mason Plumlee, Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor and Jeter.
Jeter was a huge get for Duke—both literally and figuratively—as the Blue Devils would have otherwise been looking for answers at center after Okafor's presumed leap to the NBA.
To be sure, Jeter isn't Okafor 2.0. He's a big guy at 6'11", but he needs to add at least 40 pounds before he's anywhere near as big as Okafor.
We'll see how many cheeseburgers he can eat between now and November 2015 to make that happen, but the height is much more important than the weight. With such incredible guards on the roster, Duke doesn't need a bruiser in the paint so much as it just needs a big man skilled enough to keep the defense honest.
And skilled he is. In 10 games on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit, Jeter has averaged 20.4 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. He'll also provide a great deal of defense as a shot-blocking presence that the Blue Devils missed dearly this past season.
Key Players off the Bench
Luke Kennard (shooting guard, freshman)
Kennard is regarded as one of the top three-point shooters of the 2015 class.
Before Kennard committed to Duke, a hopeful Kentucky fan, Ben Roberts, made a list of his scoring outputs for this past season for the NextCats blog. In 23 games, Kennard averaged 40.0 points per contest.
That's just silly.
He probably won't be the second coming of J.J. Redick. But then again, maybe he will be?
Sean Obi (power forward, sophomore)
While playing for a Rice team that lost 23 of 30 games, Obi tallied 17.3 points and 14.1 rebounds per 40 minutes as a freshman while averaging 26.2 minutes per game. His defensive-rebounding rate ranked second in the entire nation, according to KenPom.com (subscription required).
That's not too shabby, considering he was literally the only thing the Owls had going for them.
I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb by comparing him to a young Kenneth Faried, considering Obi is listed on KenPom.com as one of the five players with value similar to Faried's freshman season.
Marshall Plumlee (center, senior)
The good news for Plumlee is that both of his brothers got better with age. Both Mason and Miles looked hopelessly lost on the court as freshmen before blossoming into extremely important players as seniors.
Even if Marshall doesn't follow suit, he'll continue to be the first big man off the bench for the foreseeable future—making him a key player for Duke in one way or another.
Matt Jones (shooting guard, junior)
Jones certainly didn't do much this past season as a freshman, but he didn't just magically earn a 4-star rating last summer. He'll eventually evolve enough to be a quality contributor off the bench at the shooting guard and small forward positions.
Recruiting "star" rankings are courtesy of 247Sports.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.