It wasn't that long ago when many were questioning whether or not Duke's Mike Krzyzewski still had the touch when it came to recruiting.
Not only had the Hall of Fame coach missed on some key targets over the last decade but many were beginning to question his ability to assess talent.
Recruits like Taylor King didn't pan out and transferred. Other big time recruits like Greg Paulus and Lance Thomas never materialized into what projections thought they'd be, although in the cases of Paulus and Thomas, they had successes, just not what many thought.
Jump ahead to the class of 2010 and Duke finally landed one of its key targets in point-guard Kyrie Irving. Irving gives Krzyzewski the Blue Devils first true point guard prospect since Chris Duhon.
Irving wasn't enough to stop the questions when Duke missed on its ultimate top prospect in Harrison Barnes. Other members of the 2010 class include Joshua Hairston, a promising forward who in a couple years could be a major contributor, perhaps in the mold of Lance Thomas, and point guard Tyler Thornton.
Thornton's been compared to former Duke Sean Dockery and may not see much action his freshman year, but should be the type of four year player that plays a big time role in his junior and senior seasons.
All the questions have been essentially wiped off the map with Duke most recent catch, Austin Rivers, the Nation's No. 1 prospect in the class of 2011.
Rivers joins a solid class of four with the outside potential for at least one more. It remains to be seen if Duke will aggressively pursue any of the remaining targets, but if they don't, the class they've signed is very strong.
Austin River- 6'4 180 pounds, shooting guard, Winter Park, Fla.
Rivers is a five-star recruit who took over the top spot for most recruiting services following a very active and successful summer.
That summer included leading the under 17 USA team to a gold medal as well as several AAU games televised on ESPN.
Rivers is the quintessential scoring guard. While he has the skill set to play point guard, his ability to create his own shot and shots for others makees it regardless which guard slot he fills; he will have the ball in his hands a lot.
Clearly possessing a fearless, yet heady approach to the game, there is very little Rivers needs to work on aside from defense. His dad, and current Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted as much this summer.
No better place to learn those skills other than Duke, and no better teacher than Krzyzewski. Rivers clearly represents the best player in the class of 2011.
Michael Gbinije- 6-6 194 pounds, wing-forward, Richmond, Va.
A four-star recruit who represents the prototypical Duke player. He can play either guard or small forward with his size.
He had a very good summer on the AAU circuit, elevating his status and ranking along the way. He will provide Duke with an opportunistic scorer and solid defender.
His athleticism and versatility should earn him playing time early. Expect to see him play more of a small forward role with the abundance of guards expected to remain on the Blue Devils squad.
While Gbinije may not be the sexiest player in the class of 2011 he is a very solid pickup and one who is often overlooked nationally.
Marshall Plumlee- 6'11 215 pounds, Center, Arden, NC
The third Plumlee could eventually join his two big brothers at Duke in 2011, if Mason Plumlee doesn't leave early for the NBA.
Marshall Plumlee, another four-star recruit, will provide the Blue Devils with a unique opportunity to have three brothers playing on one team, and he will also give Duke another athletic big man.
He must pick up weight and strength to be able to handle the rigors of life in the ACC, but he, like his brothers, is coveted for his ability to run the floor.
The amount he will contribute as a freshman will rely on who Duke has left on its roster, but over all the potential is definitely there and many feel he has as much, if not more, potential then either of his brothers.
Tyler Adams- 6'8 250 pounds, center, Brandon, Miss.
Adams, a three to four-star recruit depending on the recruiting service, provides Krzyzewski with a big and strong body to bang in the post. He represents the first true post presence Duke has had since Sheldon Williams.
While he lacks the height of the Plumlees and Ryan Kelly, he is a strong kid who has been compared to DeJuan Blair, meaning he should be a highly effective rebounder for the Blue Devils.
Adams gives Dukes yet another big body combined with a bevy of guards that will help Krzyzewski increase the tempo of games, something they haven't been able to do the last three to four years.
Still in the hunt
Duke is still pursuing Washington D.C. guard Quinn Cook. Cook, who recently had an in-home visit with a majority of the Blue Devils coaching staff, has said he feels Duke is very interested in his services.
While the Blue Devils have not offered Cook yet, they still have at least one scholarship to give and may need another point guard if Irving leaves early.
Cook is probably not the scorer Irving is, but he is a very good and athletic point guard who could run the offense and push the tempo which is something Krzyzewski likes.
The Blue Devils also have an outside interest in Quincy Miller. Miller, however, appears to be a long shot as his interest appears to be focused on either Louisville or Baylor.
Miller has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant, both in his body and his game. Despite being listed as a power forward he is more of an outside-in type player.
Both Miller and Cook will be at Duke's "Count Down To Craziness" next weekend, as the Blue Devils' kick off practice and the 2010-2011 season.
Whether Duke goes after either, the 2011 class has helped move the Blue Devils up to No. 2 in ESPN's class rankings and re-establish them as one of elite destinations for the nation's top prospects.
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