Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Seth Curry will make a name for himself this year.
Mike Kryzewski has a bit of rebuilding to do after losing the No. 1 selection in the NBA draft, Kyrie Irving, as well as All-ACC players Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. If almost any other program had to replace those three guys, they would be in for a long season. But Duke isn't any other program and their recruiting class is special.
Even though they don't have a true go-to scorer, the strength of this Blue Devil team will be the frontcourt. The two junior big men, 6'11" Ryan Kelly and 6'10" Mason Plumlee, are both back. Kelly, who disappointed as a freshman, improved enough last year to average 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds—numbers that would have been higher if the Blue Devils didn't have such a talented rotation. Mason Plumlee averaged 7.2 points and 8.5 rebounds a year ago, numbers that show he was capable of posting a double-double any given night.
The first guy off the bench will likely be Plumlee's brother Miles Plumlee, a 6'10" senior who averaged 4.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game last year. The Blue Devils were so deep last year that sophomore Josh Hairston, a top-50 recruit, saw very limited time a year ago—something that may not change this year. The reason for that is there is a third Plumlee on campus.
Marshall Plumlee, a 7'0" top-50 recruit, is the most skilled of the trio of brothers and may be good enough to pass Hairston on the depth chart. Combo-forward Alex Murphy, brother of Florida's Erik Murphy, is a skilled player capable of playing a point-forward type of role
The backcourt is full of questions, but unlike most teams with questions the Blue Devils' issues are because of the amount of talented options they have. One thing that can be pencilled in is the fact that Seth Curry will start somewhere. Curry, a talented deep shooter like his brother Stephen, averaged nine points per game in his first year since transferring from Liberty.
Junior Andre Dawkins is a 6'4" deep shooter who averaged 8.1 points in 21 minutes last year, but isn't likely to start despite the fact that he is the second-most experienced player in the backcourt. The third member of the backcourt with any experience is sophomore point guard Tyler Thornton, a former 4-star recruit who only played 9.9 minutes per game last year and could potentially open the year as the starting point guard.
Another likely starter is freshman Austin Rivers, a 6'5" shooting guard and son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers who ranks in the top five recruits in the nation. Rivers is too good and too mature as a player to keep out of the lineup.
The guy who will challenge Thornton at the point will be Quinn Cook, a pure point guard and top-50 recruit that will likely be the starter before the end of the year. Small forward Michael Gbinjie is a top-30 recruit bringing elite athleticism and strong defense, something that could earn him a spot in a deep rotation.
Duke is certainly rebuilding, but will still be ranked in the Top 10 to begin the year. If Rivers is the real deal and the Blue Devils find a point guard, expect to see them making a run at another Final Four. However, as good as they are, they aren't on the level of North Carolina.
Freshman of the Year: Austin Rivers
All-Freshman Team: Austin Rivers
All-Freshman Team: Quinn Cook
First-Team All-ACC: Austin Rivers