After winning the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship in early April, the Duke Blue Devils have continued to stay in the news throughout the offseason.
In the first of a few editions of the monthly Duke Offseason Report, we cover a variety of topics relating to Duke men's basketball, most of which involve Kyle Singler and include speculation about the incoming recruiting class.
Around this time last month, Blue Devil nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when Singler confirmed that he would return to Duke for his senior season.
"I love being here at Duke and am excited about next year," Singler said. "I had two great options in front of me, but I did not want to miss out on all of the great things to come in a senior season."
The junior was named a first-team All-ACC selection for the 2009-10 season and will be an early contender for 2010-11 national player of the year awards.
Grant Hill Wins Award
Late last month, former Duke great Grant Hill was named the NBA's 2009-10 Sportsmanship Award winner. Hill is now a three-time winner (most in the award's 15-year history). Five of the last six winners have been former Duke players.
If you liked the 2010 National Championship, get ready for part two.
Duke and Butler will play in a rematch of the title game next season on Saturday, December 4 at 3:30 pm ET at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J. The game will be televised on ESPN.
"We are excited to play Butler next season in the Meadowlands," said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"Given the outstanding game played between Duke and Butler in the 2010 NCAA Championship, there will be added interest in next year's matchup," he said. "Surely, Coach Stevens will have his team ready to perform at a high level. We look forward to what will be a significant challenge."
In other scheduling news, Duke and Michigan State will headline next season's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Blue Devils and the Spartans, both 2010 Final Four participants, will square off in the 12th edition of the interconference battle.
Duke, which owns the most wins (10) in the history of the challenge, will host Michigan State at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 1, the last night of games slated in the challenge.
In 2009, the Big Ten won more games than the ACC for the first time. All games will again be shown on the ESPN family of networks.
Singler and Smith Named Captains
Singler, the 2010 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and fellow senior Nolan Smith were named co-captains last week.
"We're really excited about naming our co-captains so early this year, and the reason is obvious—Nolan and Kyle are our leaders," Krzyzewski said.
"They have big shoes to fill. Losing the three seniors, who all were outstanding leaders, is the biggest gap we have to fill. But we're confident that these two young men can do it."
The two seniors talked about the honor and what it means to share it with each other.
"Nolan and I have grown so much over the last three years, and now it is time for both of us step forward and become vocal leaders of this team," Singler said.
"I am honored to be a team captain and take great pride in my ability to help lead the team. We had three great senior leaders a year ago, and Nolan and I are determined to follow their example."
"Being named team captain along with Kyle is a huge honor," Smith said.
"I am excited about my leadership role with the 2010-11 team. We have high goals set for this team and the only way we can accomplish them is with hard work and great leadership."
Onto recruiting matters, the incoming class of 2010 seems fairly stable, while the pursuit of an elite talent in the class of 2011 continues.
Thus far, three high school seniors, Kyrie Irving (No. 2 PG, Rivals.com), Tyler Thornton (No. 33), and Joshua Hairston (No. 14 PF), have signed national letters of intent with Duke, while Carrick Felix (SF) is committed to Duke but remains unsigned.
Another prospect on the Blue Devils' radar is guard Austin Rivers.
Rated the No. 2 shooting guard in the class of 2011, Rivers, son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc, is one of the most prized recruits in his class, as Duke is battling North Carolina, Kansas, and Florida for his services.
Those four teams have combined to win the last six national championships.
Rivers is one of four 2011 prospects to have received scholarship offers, according to DukeReport.com. Two of those prospects, Michael Gbinije (No. 4 SF) and Tyler Adams (No. 11 C), have already given verbal commitments.