Duke Basketball: Power Ranking the Top 15 Pure Scorers in Blue Devils History

Ro ShiellAnalyst IAugust 24, 2011

Duke Basketball: Power Ranking the Top 15 Pure Scorers in Blue Devils History

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    Duke is one of the greatest college programs ever, and not just because it has the active coach with the  most wins in NCAA Division I college basketball.

    Duke is also great because of the players that have suited up over the years.

    Some guys have a great jump shot. Others have an unstoppable go to move. Pure scorers put up points in volume.

    The players on this list earned their place because of their ability to score.

    The easiest way to do this is to list the top 15 scorers in Duke history. The logic being if a player is a great scorer, he should make this list.

    There are some players that will be marginalised by this list because they only started their last two years, or they left Duke early.

    When I saw Nolan Smith was not on this list, my immediate thought was to re-think this strategy. But going on single-season averages, Smith barely made the top 20 even though he just averaged 20.1 last season.

    That's a testament to the level of talent that Duke has had or developed over the years.

No. 15: Shelden Williams, 2002 to 2006

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    The last player at Duke to average a double-double, Shelden Williams was affectionately known as "The Landlord."

    In his senior year of 2006, he formed one of the best scoring tandems, with JJ Redick, Duke has ever seen from a pair of players.

    Williams is fifteenth on the Duke all-time scoring list, first in rebounding and tops in blocked shots.

    He was the last player to record a triple-double, against Maryland. That was their reward for taunting him mercilessly as a freshman.

    His senior year at Duke, Williams scored 18.8 points, grabbed 10.7 rebounds and blocked almost four shots a game. He converted on 57% of his shots as well.

    The Atlanta Hawks drafted Williams with the sixth pick in 2006.

No. 14: Trajan Langdon, 1995 to 1999

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    Trajan Langdon was one of many great Duke players that were great shooters but not big enough for the NBA.

    Nevertheless, he has made a name for himself abroad, where he won eight different championships in three different countries.

    Langdon, 35, recently announced his retirement from playing basketball. Before he became a European champion, he was a gunner for Coach Krzyzewski.

    The 6'4" guard from Alaska started from his freshman season to his senior year, where he captained a team that finished in the national championship game.

    Duke made the NCAA tournament three seasons with Langdon in uniform. The only season they failed to make the tournament was "the Alaskan Assasin's" freshman season.

    Coach Krzyzewski had to take a leave of absence due to an injury and his assistant Pete Gaudet coached that team.

    Langdon is the No.14 scorer on Duke's all-time scoring list.

    He scored a total of 1974 points, his best year being the 1998/1999 season, where he was the second leading scorer on the team (17.3 ppg) that got upset by UConn in the 1999 NCAA finals.

No. 13: Shane Battier, 1998 to 2001

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    Today, Shane Battier is one of the most sought-after free agents in the NBA. He has carved a niche for himself as one of the best defensive wing players.

    But before he became the sixth pick of the Vancouver Grizzlies (now the Memphis Grizzlies), Battier was one of the most loved Blue Devils. He is admired for his team-first mentality and hard work on both ends of the court.

    Coming out of Detroit Country Day High School, Battier was a McDonald's All-American. The 6'8" forward also won the three point shooting contest at this prestigious annual top high school players meet.

    He could have demanded a bigger scoring role but deferred to his older team mates during his first two seasons. After an unexpected talent drain to the team when several players left due to graduation and NBA aspiration, Battier was forced into stardom.

    Duke made the NCAA tournament all four years while Battier was a player. The worst finish was in the Sweet Sixteen in 2000, a year before Duke won the national championship.

    Duke went an astounding 133-9 in the win-loss column with Battier.

    His jersey number (31) has since been retired.

    Battier is the No.13 all-time scorer in Duke history. His best year was 2001, when he averaged 19.9 points along with 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks.

    Battier not only enjoyed success on the basketball court but also excelled in the class room. He was an All-Academic All-American his last two years at Duke.

No. 12: Art Heyman, 1961 to 1963

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    At 6'5", Art Heyman was the college Charles Barkley of his day. He scored and rebounded at a very high rate in spite of his size.

    Throughout his tenure at Duke, Heyman averaged 25.1 points and 10.9 rebounds a game. He is the only player to average a double-double, in scoring and rebounding, three straight years with the Blue Devils.

    As a matter of fact, he has the highest average career points per game in school history.

    If Heyman had been allowed to play as a freshman, he would have been considerably much higher on this list.

    The guy is a scoring machine. Even without a three point line, he put up some huge numbers.

    He was the first ever No.1 overall draft pick out of Duke when he was chosen by the New York Knicks in 1963.

    He was the consensus player of the year in his senior year (1963).

    It seems that Heyman's biggest asset was his downfall. He played with a chip on his shoulder and no fight was too big for him.

    As a professional in the NBA, he was sidelined due to differences with the head coach in New York, and ultimately he made his way to the ABA.

No. 11: Jim Spanarkel, 1976 to 1979

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    You have probably heard a lot about Mike Gminski over the years, even if you were lucky enough to see him play, but his partner Jim Spanarkel is not spoken of as much.

    They were both the top scorers for some Duke teams that had some early success before Coach Krzyzewski arrived in Durham.

    Spanarkel was not only an Academic All-American twice (1978 and 1979), but he was also a high scorer and is eleventh on Duke's all-time scoring list. 

    He is one of only two players on this list whose jersey has yet to be retired, but he was a good player that played as a captain in the national finals his senior year.

    If Austin Rivers or any of the other four new freshmen put up numbers like Spanarkel, they would be considered a success.

    Spanarkel, a 6'5" guard, averaged 17.6 points for his career in college. His most successful season was his junior year, where he scored 20.8 points as Duke was one loss away from their first national championship.

    After graduating from Duke with a degree in History, Spanarkel was drafted by the the Philadelphia 76ers in 1979.

    He had a brief NBA career and is currently a color commentator with CBS.

No. 10: Jon Scheyer, 2007 to 2010

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    According to the National Post, Jon Scheyer is the only player in Duke history to score 2,000 points, make 150 3-pointers, and have 400 assists and 400 rebounds.

    Scheyer, the tenth all-time leading scorer in school history, led Duke to a national championship in 2010.

    He went undrafted after he graduated last year, but if he is determined to, he will be in the NBA one day.

    Scheyer unfortunately got sick with mononucleosis and had to miss several individual NBA team assessments. That's probably why he went undrafted. His productivity in college basketball should have been enough to get him into the second round, though.

    Scheyer was invited to several training camps and seemed like a lock to join a very talented Miami Heat team when a freak eye injury put his career on hold.

    He recently signed a contract to play with one of Europe's most prestigious teams, Maccabi Tel Aviv.

    If Scheyer continues to show the determination he had while at Duke, he will suit up for an NBA team shortly. 

    As a senior, he averaged 18.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

No. 9: Jason Williams, 2000 to 2002

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    Jay Williams, or Jason as he was known while at Duke, was a prolific scorer in college.

    Williams held Duke's single-season scoring record (841 points) until JJ Redick broke it in 2006. Prior to Williams, this record was set by Dick Groat in 1951.

    Williams was the perpetrator of Duke's "Miracle Minute," when he led Duke to victory over Maryland in 2001, even though the Blue Devils were down by 10 points with a minute left on the clock.

    That Maryland team would become the National Champions a season later, so they were no easy team to beat, which makes that come-from-behind win even more impressive.

    Williams only lasted three seasons at Duke before the NBA lured him away. He was the second overall pick of the 2002 draft by the Chicago Bulls.

    A motorcycle injury wrecked William's professional career. However, he never gave up trying to make the NBA.

    His persistence is what made him one of the greatest Blue Devils of all time. A lesser man would have called it a day immediately. Williams went through a lot of rehabilitation and it was a miracle he was able to play basketball again, even if it was not for the desired NBA.

    The 6'2" guard is the ninth overall leading scorer in Duke history, and his best season saw him average 21.6 points, 6.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds as Duke won the national championship in 2001.

    Had Williams played another year in college, he would have been much higher on this list.

No. 8: Gene Banks, 1978 to 1981

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    Gene Banks was the first elite player Coach Krzyzeski had at Duke in 1981, Banks' senior year.

    Leading scorer Mike Gminski had graduated a year earlier, and Banks was pressed into the top scorer role that saw Duke make the NIT at the end of the season.

    Banks averaged 16.8 points and 7.7 rebounds through four years at Duke. He averaged 18.1 points as a senior.

    Banks, at 6'7", was one of the most athletic players to ever play for Coach Krzyzewski.

    The video above is of him throwing one down over 7'4" Ralph Sampson.

No. 7: Mark Alaire, 1983 to 1986

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    "Mark Alarie was the typical example of a preppy, blond guy at Duke who looked like he should have spent more time on the golf course than the basketball course."

    The quote above is from my colleague Joe Rapolla Jr. when he did a story about the 15 most hated Duke players.

    Looks can be very deceiving. Alarie is the seventh player on Duke's all time scoring list.

    He averaged 16.1 points throughout his Duke tenure, saving his best for last when helped lead Duke to the national title game his senior year, 1986.

    He came to Duke as part of Coach Krzyzeswki's first great draft class that included Johnny Dawkins and Jay Bilas.

    According to Duke magazine, Alarie was "smooth and efficient, a silent assassin."

    He formed a formidable backcourt with David Henderson and Jay Bilas, whom he has subsequently thanked for his role.

    "Jay made so many sacrifices for the team, living in the weight room, setting screens for me to get open, guarding the giants so I didn't have to," Alarie said.

    This allowed Alarie to become the second leading scorer of that team that ultimately secured a young Krzyzewski's job in Durham.

    These guys played in the ACC when it was truly one of the most competitive conferences in the world.

    That 1986 team had previously beaten a Michael Jordan-led North Carolina team in the 1984 ACC tournament, and made the NCAA tournament in 1985.

    Yet, in their senior year they were picked sixth in the ACC, behind a Georgia Tech (with Mark Price and John Salley) team that was ranked No. 1, with North Carolina right behind it.

    Nonetheless, this senior-laden team ended up in the national championship game. They beat North Carolina for the ACC regular season title and Georgia Tech for the ACC tournament tittle.

    That was the first season since 1966 Duke won both the regular season title and ACC title.

    Alarie and his graduating class had truly put a Krzyzewski-led Duke team on the map.

    The 6'8" forward was the sixteenth pick of the Denver Nuggets in 1986, but his NBA career would be cut short five years later due to a serious injury. 

No. 6: Danny Ferry, 1986 to 1989

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    Danny Ferry could score in bunches. He could hit the three point shot or the mid range jumper. Although listed as a 6'10" center, he was more of a shooter.

    If any current Blue Devil was to come close to Ferry, it would be Ryan Kelly.

    As a freshman in 1986, Ferry was added to a group of seniors from Coach K's best recruiting class.

    Due to an injury, Ferry had to step in to the starting line up to reprise Jay Bilas' role of defending and rebounding. This team ended the season as runner-ups in the national championship game.

    The following season after the graduation of several key seniors, the leadership role was passed to Ferry.

    That season saw Duke make it only as far as the Sweet Sixteen. But the last two years of Ferry's tenure at Duke saw him score over 20 points a game as Duke would make the next two Final Fours.

    That makes it three Final Fours that Ferry played in.

    That era, from 1986 to 1993, saw Duke become an almost permanent fixture at the top of college basketball.

    Johnny Dawkins started, passed the torch to Ferry, who in turn passed it to Christian Laettner.

    But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

    Ferry led Duke in scoring from his sophomore year on, saving his best for last, when he posted averages of 22.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in his senior season.

    Ferry was one of the best passing big men ever to grace the college game. He is the only player to be ranked in the top ten in school history in scoring, rebounding and assists.

    In October of 1988, Ferry set Duke's single-game scoring record by dropping 58 on Miami. He also set a record of 23 made field goals in that same game.

No. 5: Mike Gminski, 1977 to 1980

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    Mike Gminski is best known as the giant analyst for CBS sports, but before that and the NBA, he was one of the greatest centers to ever play at Duke.

    When he graduated, he set records in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.

    During his junior year, he formed a great scoring partnership with Jim Spanarkel. They made it to the NCAA finals in 1979.

    The 6'11" post player was drafted by New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 1980 NBA draft.

No. 4: Kyle Singler, 2008 to 2011

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    When I think of Kyle Singler, it brings to mind the T-1000 machine played by Robert Patrick from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

    That machine was relentless in his pursuit of John Connor. He was a silent assassin that kept coming.

    That's why it reminds me of Singler. Every season we expected him to be better, and he was just a picture of consistency.

    Now, he is the No. 4 all-time scorer at Duke.

    He averaged 16.1 points over his four years a Duke, but that's not the end of it. Singler is top ten in school history in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots!

    Freshman Alex Murphy will be wearing No.12 next season, but it needs to be retired in honor of Singler.

    Singler doesn't deserve the recognition just for his individual success. Duke went 155-23 in the win-loss column while Singler was on the roster. The icing on the cake was the 2010 national championship.

    Singler recently agreed to play in sunny Spain's top basketball league during the current NBA lockout, but has a clause in his contract that will allow him to come back to the Detroit Pistons if the lockout ends soon.

No. 3: Christian Laettner, 1989 to 1992

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    Some colleges become champions by fluke effort, while others build a steady and meticulous rise to the top.

    When Christian Laettner led Duke to their first ever NCAA championship, he was just a piece in a line of succession.

    Laettner was a mighty piece, with each player building upon where the previous player left off.

    Johnny Dawkins started it with his great recruiting class of 1986, then Danny Ferry took over and led his teams to three Final Fours.

    Then, he passed the torch to Laettner and Bobby Hurley, who then took the Blue Devils to back-to-back championships after Grant Hill Arrived.

    Laettner has not played for Duke since 1992, yet his name is simultaneous with Duke in any conversation. His antics have been debated to death. His heroics should be cemented in song.

    Earlier in this article, it was pointed out that Danny Ferry played in three Final Fours.

    Laettner trumped that with an amazing four Final Four Appearances, including three championship games in which he lifted the trophy twice.

    In his four years at Duke, he only averaged 16.6 points and 7.8 rebounds. His senior year he scored 21.5 points and 7.9 rebounds.

    If Laettner was in college today, by his sophomore year he would probably have left for the NBA.

    He stayed all four years at Duke and was rewarded for his play by being invited to join the greatest team ever assembled: The 1992 Dream Team.

    If any college player deserved that spot at the time, it was Laettner.

No. 2: Johnny Dawkins, 1983 to 1986

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    While researching Johnny Dawkins, it was clear that this guy had ice in his veins and deserved some consideration as Duke's greatest ever player.

    Coach Krzyzewski once credited Dawkins' 1986 class as the building blocks of Duke's future success.

    "We would never have won in '91 without building on what the '86 team did." Coach K told Duke Magazine. "They defined the program. They became the example we've held up to every team since then, not just in how they played the game but in how they interacted with fans, how they handled class work. They laid the foundation."

    That class included, Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie, David Henderson and Welden Williams.

    All these guys played their role very well, but Dawkins was the leader of this team. He brought them back from the brink of defeat numerous times.

    Despite being only 6'2" and 165 pounds, Dawkins was a prolific scorer. In an era when the frontcourt ruled the hardwood battles, it was unusual for a guard to be a high scorer on a top-ranked team.

    Size was everything. That era saw the emergence of Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon, Georgetown's Patrick Ewing and Virginia's Ralf Sampson. Not to mention the greatest that never was, Len Bias of Maryland (1986 No. 2 draft pick)

    Johny Dawkins was fearless against these guys. In the ACC, North Carolina had Brad Doherty (1986 No. 1 draft pick), Georgia Tech had John Sally, and Maryland had Bias.

    Dawkins led Duke through all of these teams to capture the ACC regular season title and tournament championship his senior year.

    Sadly, they lost a nail biter, on a Pervis Ellison put back, to Louisville in the 1986 NCAA finals.

    In his four years in college, Dawkins scored 19.2 points, grabbed 4.0 rebounds and dished out 4.2 assists.

    He was the overall Duke scoring leader for 20 years until 2006. A year later, a clone by the name of Nolan Smith enrolled at Duke and delivered a fourth championship.

    Dawkins is currently the head coach of Stanford Cardinal in the new PAC-12. 

No. 1: J.J. Redick, 2002 to 2006

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    "Redick for three" was the last sentence any Duke opponent wanted to hear while J.J. Redick was a player in college.

    Redick is the second player on the ACC all-time scoring list, which incidentally features the top five players on this list.

    Redick also holds the highest single-season points per game record when he averaged 26.8 in 2006, a record previously record held by Dick Groat since 1952.

    Redick also holds the most points scored in a single season, 964 points.

    He made 40% of his three point attempts over his four years at Duke.

    Currently, Redick is one of the most hard working players on the Orlando Magic.