A Bold Prediction for Each Incoming Duke Freshman

Daniel ChristianCorrespondent IIIAugust 3, 2011

A Bold Prediction for Each Incoming Duke Freshman

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    It's hard to pinpoint how well a freshman will play in college basketball.

    Some struggle, some thrive. Some cope with the pressure of playing major college ball, some don't. Certain games translate easily, others don't. It's just the way of the world in college basketball, and it's a whole new ball game the freshman don't really know about.

    Still, talent, athleticism and hard work all pay off sooner or later, but with certain schools, fans expect the former. They expect top tier recruits to come in and dominate the college scene, but frankly, the expectations are too high.

    Here are five predictions, one for each Duke freshman, that lean on the side of diehard fandom,five predictions that may be expecting all that talent to pay off sooner, rather than later (in certain cases). 

5. Marshall Plumlee Will Hardly Get off the Bench

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    This prediction certainly isn't putting too much of a burden on Marshall Plumlee, but it's all I really see next season.

    Marshall will become the third Plumlee brother to don a Duke uniform next season, and fans are mostly in agreement that too much is not to be expected. He's the tallest of the three but by far the least polished post the Blue Devils have on their roster.

    He's not as athletic as either of his brothers, but he can still throw it down.

    He's rather skinny and needs to fill out his frame before Duke can seriously consider putting him in with the big boys.

4. Alex Murphy Will Create the Most Highlights Next Season

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    Alex Murphy has clearly never heard the phrase "white men can't jump," and if he has, he's doing his best to put an end to that stereotype. 

    The 6'8" forward enrolled at Duke a year early to be part of this season's team, and as such a highly touted recruit, he is sure to find some playing time.

    He's uber athletic with a great handle, and a killer shot to boot, reminding some of a Mike Dunleavy prototype. Reports from the NC-Pro AM are that Alex Murphy is on a roll, and that has some thinking he just might crack more minutes than originally expected.

    Still, Murphy is the type of player that can dunk on, around, or over someone, and that is sure to get the Cameron Crazies riled up. He may be in stiff competition with Mason Plumlee for the highlight king, but Murphy's shot and handle make him more of a threat, opening the doors for nastier highlights. 

3. Quinn Cook Will Lead the Team in Assists

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    Duke is without a true, dynamic point guard next season. Sure, Seth Curry can handle the point relatively well, and Tyler Thornton is one to strap up defensively, but in terms of pure point guard ability, incoming freshman Quinn Cook is Duke's guy.

    He probably won't start throughout the season, but he will most definitely come off the bench to provide a boost in both scoring and facilitating. He's quick with the ball and has a deadly jump shot, a deadly combination for a passing point guard. The defender can't play too up close because Cook has the ability to blow by him, penetrate the lane and make a smart decision, and he can't play off of Cook, because he could just as easily can a three in his face. For Quinn Cook it's a win-win scenario.

2. Michael Gbinjie Will Lead the Team in Bench Scoring

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    With Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry likely moving into the starting lineup, the bench becomes full of lowerclassmen and senior Miles Plumlee. Out of all of the bench players, Gbinjie is the most polished scorer and has the most college ready body.

    He's a legititmate 6'6", closing in on 6'7" and his midrange game is a sight to behold. He's nearly a lock to knock down anything within 20 feet, and his range is expanding too. He's not terribly athletic, but is athletic enough to get by.

    His strength and his deadly midrange game, along with his ability to create his own shot, will serve him well in college ball, especially in his freshman year as he gets acclimated to the climate.

Austin Rivers Will Win ACC Freshman of the Year and Lead Duke in Scoring

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    Duke has several scoring threats in Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, and Mason Plumlee, but they all might be trumped by the No. 1 recruit in the nation, Austin Rivers.

    He may not be the leader of this team, but he will definitely be the spark, the dynamite, that takes Duke as far as they can go. What made him so highly touted was his ridiculous scoring ability. He has a tight handle with a killer crossover, which is slightly less impressive than his remarkable step back jump shot. His range seems practically unlimited, and it's stupefying how he can pull up from 25 feet out and bang a three. He penetrates incredibly and has a soft mid range jump shot. To put the cherry on top of his scoring sundae is his superior athleticism, which allows him to rise above the defense.

    His defense is still a work in progress, but is sure to be polished under the care of Hall of Fame coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

    Rivers is the most talented incoming freshmen in the ACC, and his game is sure to translate to the college level. I feel completely comfortable predicting he will win the ACC freshman of the year, but what's haunting is that I feel just as comfortable saying he'll win NCAA Freshman of the Year.