Open Mic: All-Time Duke Basketball Team of Coach K's Era

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IAugust 7, 2008

So I already tried this with Virginia so I thought I would try again with Duke. 

Hope you enjoy!

NOTE: Not being 100 years old or having access to lots of old footage, this list is the top players of the COACH K era which means from 1980-present.  So for those looking for men like Art Heyman, Gene Banks and Jeff Mullins you won't find them.  Even though they would all be locks for the all-time team I simply do not know enough about them to give them justice.   

PGJohnny Dawkins

Even with other greats like Bobby Hurley, Jason Williams, and Jeff Capel this is a no-brainer.  Dawkins is an amazing point guard who was always able to make the players around him better while still finding moments to take over the game.  Dawkins finished his career with 2,556 points, which is the third highest total in the history of the ACC. 

His senior year he won the Naismith award, as well as helped lead the Blue Devils to a 37-3 (which was an NCAA-record for wins in a season at the time).  Dawkins had 555 assists sixth best in school history and nearly 200 steals.  Dawkins simply did a little bit of everything. 

Dawkins was named one of the top 50 players in ACC history and was pegged as the 78th best college basketball player of all-time according to the Sporting News magazine.  He went on to a nine year career in the NBA and became a long-time assistant at Duke before recently accepting a job at Stanford. 

Undoubtedly, Dawkins will be a favorite to take over for Coach K when retirement eventually comes, a testament to his leadership and significance to Duke Basketball.

SGJ.J. Redick

Love him or hate him, Redick had one amazing career at Duke.  Redick is probably one of the best pure shooters in the history of the game and even if he was not a lockdown defender, he shattered some records that once seemed unbreakable. 

Redick broke former Cavalier Curtis Staples' record for three-pointers in a career, Jeff Lamp's ACC record for most consecutive free throws and became the all-time leading scorer at Duke and ACC history with 2,769 points in his career. 

Redick won eight different national awards his senior year for player of the year and simply knew how to hit big shots when it mattered.  The truth is that teams had to plan against Redick and most of the time that could never really stop him.

Redick will be remembered by Duke-haters for not being able to win a national championship, but he still led his team to a 112-23 and three ACC tournament titles. 

I think most teams will take that any day.

SFGrant Hill

It's hard not to like Grant Hill.  As much as everyone remembers Laettner's miracle shot against Kentucky, it was Hill who made the equally impressive 75-foot pass that most Duke quarterbacks may not have been able to make. 

Hill was part of two National Championship teams and put up some amazing career numbers.  Hill was the first ACC player to have 1900 points, 700 rebounds, 400 assists, 200 steals and 100 blocked shots.  He was also a two-time National Defensive Player of the Year.

Hill, despite the individual accomplishments, is the ultimate team player.  He always looked for the extra pass and played with a selfless attitude.  It is that persona that helped lead Duke to all those victories during his tenure.  If this team could actually happen, he is the kind of guy every team needs to be successful.

Hill has had a long and injury-plagued NBA career but he still will go down as one of the best to ever play the game.

CMike Gminski

Okay so Gminski actually graduated right before Coach K came to Durham, but he represented many of the same qualities that have come to define Duke in the K era. 

The "G-man" was a ferocious center who could attack the basket and put up some big numbers.  Gminski scored over 2300 points in his career. That is good for fourth in Duke history and seventh in the ACC.  He is also second in blocks and rebounds behind Shelden Williams in the Duke history books.

Also, Gminski's ability to hit from the charity stripe was quite impressive.  The big man averaged 84 percent for his career.  No wonder he made a first or second team All-American for three consecutive years and the ACC Rookie of the Year.

Gminski put up all of these numbers before Duke became the perennial powerhouse that we now know.  He helped set the standard for big men in the ACC and since then his legacy has only grown.

PFChristian Laettner

So maybe he can't stick with an NBA team, but Laettner was not only one of Duke's top players but one of the best in the history of college basketball.

Forget his miracle shot against Kentucky in the Elite Eight that helped take them to a second straight National Championship for a moment.

Laettner is the only man in NCAA history to start a game in the Final Four all four years he was in college.  He holds the record for most points scored, most free throws made and attempted, and most games played in NCAA tournament history. 

In other words, the man could play in the clutch.

Laettner was also the ONLY college player on the 1992 NBA "Dream Team".  That's right he was on the same team as Jordan, Pippen, Magic, Barkley and every other Hall of Famer the NBA could boast at the time.

Laettner finished his career fourth and third respectively in Duke history in scoring and rebounding becoming only one of a handful of players to have both over 2000 points and 1000 rebounds in a career.

Best of the rest

Danny Ferry

He still holds the Duke record for most points scored in a game.

Bobby Hurley

Over 1,000 assists in his career, that is almost twice that of Dawkins. He also has two Championship rings.

Shane Battier

He was a great team leader, defensive force, and could score too.

Elton Brand

Brand was an amazing player who is near the tops in blocks in school history.  He may not have the career numbers of others, but he certainly has the game to compete with any and all comers.

Mark Alarie

The former Arizona player of the year was bred for greatness when he came to Duke.  His two-time all-ACC selections and third team all-American honors makes him a solid member of any Duke team.  Alongside Dawkins, Alarie put up some solid numbers of his own: 6th in points with 2,136 and 10th in blocks.

Tommy Amaker

Greay player who is third in bost assists and steals in a career for Duke.  He also was an amazing defensive player, probably the top among guards at Duke earning him the Defensive Player of the Year crown in 1987.

Jeff Capel

The little guy did not have the numbers of many other greats but I always admired his hustle and determination.  He obviously hit some big shots for Duke like the classic half-court shot against North Carolina and finished 10th in assists.  Maybe others belong in front of him, but I think he would be a solid member of any team.

Let the debate


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