NBA Draft 2011: Will Kyrie Irving Become Duke's Greatest NBA Star?

Mike B.Correspondent IMarch 26, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Plenty of college superstars have played ball at Duke University. But sadly, most of those college superstars never went on to become NBA superstars.

A prime example is Danny Ferry. The 6'10" forward helped Duke reach the Final Four multiple times and picked up the Naismith Award his senior year.

He was then selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the second overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft.  

Ferry would play 13 seasons in the league, but never became anything more than just a role player, averaging seven points per game for his career.   

Ferry's college teammate Christian Laettner is another example. He steered the Blue Devils to back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992, and received several national player of the year honors. And who can forget his stunning buzzer-beater in the NCAA Tournament?

The Minnesota Timberwolves later made Laettner the third overall pick in the 1992 draft behind future franchise centers Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning.

Laettner would make only one All-Star appearance during his 13-year career and failed to develop into the dangerous force that many had predicted. 

Grant Hill is perhaps the lone Duke product to ever be considered an NBA superstar. Hill was quite the player during the first six years of his pro career. But unfortunately, injuries would get in the way of making him a lock for the Hall of Fame.  

Duke freshman phenom Kyrie Irving might declare for this year's draft. If he does, the talented point guard from New Jersey will likely be a top-three pick, maybe even No. 1 overall.

Many people claim that Irving will be a special player at the next level. They say he has the potential to be as good or even better than New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul.   

Irving possesses all the tools to become an elite NBA point guard. With his amazing speed, he can blow by his defenders and also has remarkable passing skills. In addition, he knows how to make his teammates better and knows when to shoot and when to pass the ball.

Probably the only thing that could keep Irving from becoming a superstar in the pros is injuries. He injured his right toe earlier this season, forcing him to miss 26 games.

He returned to play in Duke's three NCAA Tournament games recently and impressed NBA scouts with his 28-point outing against Arizona.   

Hopefully Irving doesn't get bothered with anymore injuries in the future and puts together a long and successful career in the league. 

When it's all said and done, will he have a better pro career than Hill and other former Dukies like Carlos Boozer and Elton Brand? Or will he fail to meet expectations like Ferry, Laettner and so many Blue Devil stars before him?

Only time will tell.