In the summer of 1999, I first heard the name Jason Williams. One of the only good things about ESPN is their coverage of college basketball. During a Sports Center one of the talking heads had mentioned Jason Williams of St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey as being Duke University’s next great point guard. Eleven years later, Jason Williams was in fact one of the greatest point guards in NCAA history. A 2002 Naismith College Player of the Year Award winner, a 2002 Oscar Robertson Trophy winner, a 2002 John R. Wooden Award winner, and an NCAA National Champion in 2001, Williams became legend. His games stood out because he did everything from shoot threes to drop dimes, all the way down to posterizing fools who wasted their time on defense getting in his way, J-Will was everything a leader and point guard at Duke should be.
I will never forget the type of play I saw from Jason Williams while wearing a Duke Blue and White uniform. Running the floor with Shane Battier, Mike Dunleavy Jr., & Chris Duhon, Williams transformed the Duke offense from clandestine and soft to quick and hard. The Duke fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium went wild during his sophomore season when Williams averaged 21.6 points a game. Williams was a true leader for his team even as a sophomore. There was no better player on the court during his three seasons as a Duke Blue Devil, no matter who was playing.
Fast forward to the summer of 2009, Duke was recruiting another young New Jersey point guard. Kyrie Irving, a 6’2 point guard from St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey was the hottest recruit in the country. Irving had his choice of schools, ranging from Duke to Kentucky, to even the University North Carolina. Irving made it clear during his announcement on October 22, 2009 airing on one of ESPN’s 47 networks, ESPNU, that he wanted to attend a school with high character and respect for the game. Obviously that led to him choosing Duke. This fall, Irving will don the Duke Blue and White while wearing #1, an honor he’s been given as the heir apparent to the point guard throne. No other player in the history of Duke University has worn #1.
Kyrie Irving is the Next One for Duke. He’s got lightning quick speed, a mind for the game that makes even Jason Williams jealous. Duke’s legacy at the point guard position speaks for itself. Tommy Amaker, Bobby Hurley, Steve Wojciechowski, Chris Collins, Jason Williams, Chris Duhon, Greg Paulus, Nolan Smith, and now Kyrie Irving will be in charge of having the ball at one point in the history of the Coach Krzyzewski’s Duke Teams. That’s a hell of a list. Irving has a lot to live up to. However, it’s not unbelievable that he will live up to that hype. During the U18 Gold Medal Game, Irving representing Team USA scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He’s that good.
The most incredible part of Irving’s game is his mind. He was a top student at St. Patrick’s High School, and has already taken to the Duke culture having only been on campus for one day. Earlier this evening Irving attended the Duke Basketball Camp, which Coach Krzyzewski hosts every year. Irving noted on his Twitter account that he was waiting to sophomore Andre Dawkins speak.
Defending a National Championship for Duke with a freshmen point guard will be incredibly difficult. Irving knows that better than anyone. What everyone else does not know is that Kyrie Irving has no qualms or nerves with helping defend a National Title that he watched his team win from his living room. Kyrie Irving has no fear, and no remorse what he’s about to do the college basketball world. His victims will be National Championship contenders like Pre-Season #3 Michigan State and #6 Purdue during the early portion of the season before moving on to rivals Maryland and North Carolina. As freshmen, five point guards have led teams to National Championships in the tournament expansion era. Kyrie Irving is about to start creating a second hand to put rings on.