The 12 Best Post Players in Duke Blue Devils History
Having a player that makes high percentage shots is very invaluable to any team. Quality post players create opportunities for open shots on the perimeter or they get opposing players in foul trouble
If the opposing team's best players get in foul trouble they are out of the game for long spells creating opportunities for easier baskets against second string players.
Post players are predominantly the bigger players so they are expected to compete for every rebound.
Duke has been widely criticized for not having this type of player in recent years. They have had some special players and this list is all about them.
The players on this list are traditional post players so sadly neither Mike Dunleavy Jr nor Shane Battier made the list.
Both took turns playing this position but mostly on the defensive end. Both were quality three point shooters and that was their main weapon of attack.
Both these players hold a special place in the history of Duke's program because they are champions (2001).
This is list is geared toward the traditional post players as stipulated earlier
For every college basketball fan there is a defining player of their era, Brian Zoubek is mine. By all accounts he should not be on any list of top Post players.
His first three seasons in Durham were hampered by injuries, but he found his mojo halfway through his senior season and was spectacular as he anchored Duke to Mike Krzyzewski's fourth championship.
He averaged five offensive rebounds as Duke tore through the NCAA tournament.
Unlike the other guys on this list he did not win any post season award but he is a champion.
Every one can look back and suggest a certain player that I may have missed, but 'Zoubs' is my guy.
Cherokee Parks averaged 19 points and 9.3 assists a game in the worst season Duke has ever experienced under the Mike Krzyzewski era. After he was established as a top coach that is.
Parks won an NCAA championship as a freshman in 1992. He was a starter as a sophomore, after Christian Laettner's eligibility had expired.
The 6'11 Parks was a solid player his sophomore and junior seasons, while Grant Hill was still around. They made it to the NCAA tournament finals in Hill's last season, in 1994. Parks was the second leading scorer on that team with 12.5 points and the leading rebounder with 8.4 a game.
As a senior, Coach Krzyzewski unfortunately had to have surgery and veto the season. His assistant Pete Gaudet took over as coach of the team.
Duke won only two games in the ACC that season and finished with a record of 13-18 (2-14 ACC).
That did not stop the Dallas Mavericks from taking Parks the twelfth pick in the 1995 NBA draft. Parks had a ten year career in the NBA playing for over seven teams.
Mike Lewis played at Duke from 1965 to 1968 and averaged a double double all three years. Freshmen were not allowed to play then.
The 6'8" center was ALL ACC as a senior and the leading scorer (21.7) and rebounder (14.4) and is a member of Duke sports hall of fame.
He made the All America and ACC teams in his senior year and led the ACC in rebounding his final two seasons as a Blue Devil.
After college he played in the ABA and was an All-Star in the 1971 season. He played seven years as a professional before his career ended after an Archilles tendon injury.
Gene Banks was a senior by the time Mike Krzyzewski arrived in Durham. The 6'7" forward was the leading scorer of that team that made it to the NIT in 1981.
Banks averaged 16.8 points and 8 rebounds starting all four years in college. When he came to Duke (in 1978) he was more highly rated than Magic Johnson. Banks was an All American high school player three consecutive years.
Duke, coached by Bill Foster made it to the NCAA title game but lost to Kentucky. That season Banks was named ACC freshman of the year.
Banks was All ACC his senior year and was drafted by San Antonio Spurs. He played six years in the NBA then later played abroad in the Italian league, French League and Israeli League.
As of 2009 Banks was an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards.
Carlos Boozer only spent three seasons at Duke but they were impressive none the less. He made the ALL ACC Rookie team in 2000 and was an NCAA champion in 2001.
Boozer's career averages were 15 points and 7.2 rebounds, playing with some quality offensive players, Jason Williams and Shane Battier to name a few.
He was first team All ACC and the ACC tournament MVP in 2002.
After his junior season, Boozer was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 6'9" forward is currently with the Eastern conference champions, the Chicago Bulls.
Who knows how the rivalry between North Carolina and Duke started but Art Heyman seem to be in the thick of it. While at Duke he was renowned to have been in some major incidents mostly with Duke's cross town rivals.
In their 1961 showdown Heyman made a calculated foul on North Carolina's Larry Brown (yes coach Brown as we know him today). Brown did not take too kindly to being fouled like that and responded with a punch. Donnie Walsh, NBA executive, came off the bench and sucker punched Heyman then ran away.
A fight ensued and fans even got involved though it was every man for themselves.
This is what Heyman said during an interview with Steve Bloom in 2006.
"With about seven seconds to go, he drove for the basket and I fouled him hard. He threw the ball at me and started swinging, and I cold-cocked him. I also hit Donnie Walsh [current president of the Indiana Pacers]. All three of us were suspended. It cost Duke the national championship because we had the best team in the country."
Turns out that Heyman had signed a letter of intent to play at UNC with his Long Island buddy Larry Brown but Duke new coach, Vic Bubas, managed to convince Heyman's parents that Duke was a better fit.
Indeed Heyman always had an attitude but he was a 6'5" 205 pound rebounding beast (college basketball's Dennis Rodman) and would probably be Duke's all time scorer if he had been allowed to play his freshman season.
Heyman averaged 25.1 points and 10.9 rebounds his three years on Duke's varsity squad. As a senior he won several national player of they year awards. He was also ACC player of the year and the NCAA tournament most valuable player even though Duke did not make the finals in 1963.
Heyman is currently in the Duke's Sports Hall of Fame and the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
After college he was drafted by the New York Knicks had a great rookie year but then fell out of favour with the coach and was benched. He eventually quit the NBA for the ABA.
Art Heyman is the first number one NBA overall pick in Duke's history and in 2002 he was named as one of the ACC's top 50 player of all time.
"I just didn’t care anymore." Heyman said to Steve Bloom."I had the ability, but I never had the right attitude. The worst thing that ever happened to me was being drafted by the Knicks. They thought I was the savior and I was wasn’t. I wasn’t 6’-10 and black. Back then you had to be Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlin."
Art Heyman, what a guy!
Mark Alarie was a member of Mike Krzyzewski's first major recruiting class at Duke along with Johny Dawkins, Weldon Williams, David Henderson and Jay Bilas.
Dawkins was the highest scoring Blue Devil until JJ Redick surpassed him. Alarie was to Dawkins as Shelden Williams was to Redick.
They did not make the tournament their freshman season in 1983, Coach Mike Krzyzewski's third season.
But the next two seasons they made the tournament and in their third season, they won the ACC tournament and were the runners up in the NCAA Tournament final.
Dawkins and Alarie were the first class mates in the NCAA to record over 2000 points each.
The 6'8" 225 pound Alarie, averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds throughout his Duke career. He was a first round pick of the Denver Nuggets in 1986.
A leg injury ended his basketball career after five seasons in the NBA. Alarie is now a respectable business man.
Danny Ferry played in two Final Fours for Mike Krzyzewski, in his last two seasons at Duke in 1988 and 1989. Ferry was the leading scorer with 22.4 points with 7.4 rebounds and almost 5 assists.
The 6'10" center, originally from Maryland was the Naismith Player of the year in 1989. Duke lost in the Final Four to P J Carlismo's Seton Hall, who in turn lost by a point to Michigan Wolverines in the finals.
Ferry revolutionised the way the game is played today. He was a versatile center that shot threes and was second on the team, to Quin Snyder, in assists per game his senior year. He made a respectable 38% of his three point shots throughout his four years at Duke.
He is one of a few college players to amass 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists.
As a freshman, Ferry was a roll player on a team that lost in the NCAA tournament finals. That team was led by Johny Dawkins and Mark Alarie.
After college Ferry was drafted second overall in 1989 but preferred to play overseas in an Italian league rather than play for the woeful L A Clippers. After they traded his rights to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ferry's NBA career started where he played over ten years.
After his playing career ended Ferry held several NBA executives positions and is currently Vice President of Basketball Operations for the San Antonio Spurs.
In 2002, Ferry was named as one of the ACC's top 50 player of all time.
Danny Ferry's father, Bob, played in the NBA from 1960 to 1968.
His first year at Duke, they finished in the Elite Eight. Second year they lost in the NCAA finals. His third year, well he was gone by then.
Brand is a 6'8" 260 pound rugged bruiser that averaged 16.2 points and 9 rebounds his two seasons as a Blue Devil. He was the consensus player of the year after his sophomore season.
Brand was named as one of the top 50 players in the ACC in 2002.
Brand was the one of the first underclassmen to leave Duke early and the first Duke player to be drafted first overall, under Coach Krzyzewski, in the 1999 NBA draft.
He hasn't had a Hall of Fame NBA career but his bank manager should be very happy.
When you think of a Duke big man, Christian Laettner is the first player that comes to mind.
He was the center of that great team of 1991 that got Mike Krzyzewski over the hump, when he won his first championship. Next year they defended their championship to secure back to back tittles.
The greatest thing about that Duke team is they just happen to be around when there were some great teams in college basketball. UNLV Running rebels with Larry Johnson, Stacy Augman and Greg Anthony.
Michigan Wolverines five freshmen or "The Fab Five" as they were known. Dean Smith's North Carolina or Rick Pitino's Kentucky.
During those two championship runs, his junior and senior seasons, Laettner averaged about 20 points and grabbed 8.3 rebounds.
His senior season he was the consensus national player of the year and was selected as a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. He was also named as a top 50 ACC player in 2002.
Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him third overall behind Shaquille O'Neal (first) and Alonzo Mourning, in 1992.
Mike Gminski is currenlty known as an analysts of college basketball these days but before that he was a great college player. The 6'11" center played for Duke from 1977 to 1980.
He graduated a year before Duke's best coach, Mike Krzyzewski, came to Durham.
Gminski was all ACC three years in a row from his sophomore season. When he graduated he was the all time scoring and rebounding leader for Duke. Also led his school in blocked shots and is currently second all time behind Shelden Williams.
Williams also overtook Gminski as Duke's all time top rebounder in 2006.
Along with high scoring guard Jim Spanarkel, Gminski led Duke to the 1978 NCAA tournament finals where they lost to Kentucky Wildcats by a very slim margin.
Next two seasons, Duke made the NCAA tournament with their best finish in the Elite Eight, Gminski's senior year.
The G'man, as he was known, was drafted seventh overall by the New Jersey Nets in 1980. He spent 14 years in the NBA totalling 10,953 points, 6,480 rebounds and 989 blocked shots.
In 2002, Gminski was named as one of the ACC's top 50 player of all time.
First in all time blocked shots at Duke. Top ten in Rebounds.Top twenty in total points scored. He set the single season record for blocked shots three times.
Sheldon Williams, known affectionately as "The Landlord" played at Duke from 2002 to 2006. At 6'9" 250 pounds he was a a load to handle.
He is the first Duke player to average a double double during Mike Krzyzewski's tenure at Duke. he did it first as a junior with averages of 15.5 points and 11.2 rebounds. As a senior he averaged 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds.
Williams averaged over 3 blocks a game three seasons straight.
He is one of three players to ever record a triple double at Duke. According to an article in ESPN the Magazine as a freshman he was booed mercilessly at Maryland for an incident he was exonerated for in high school.
During his senior year Williams got revenge recording 19 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 blocks in a 76-52 victory over Maryland ranked No.21 at the time.
Williams was drafted fifth by the Atlanta Hawks in 2006 but has yet to find his niche in the NBA.