Many college basketball analysts have decided that Duke University will not have a very successful 2009-2010 campaign.
With the sudden departure of Elliot Williams, who transferred to Memphis for family reasons, combined with Gerald Henderson forgoing his senior season to play in the NBA, few people disagree. I, however, am one of those people.
Next season should be a rebuilding year for the Duke basketball program, but I do not see that affecting Duke’s win total for this coming year. The success that Duke has had in recent years will contribute to the belief that they will have a so called “off year,” but I do not believe that Coach K will allow that to occur.
Returning to the Duke roster next season will be Jon Scheyer, who was converted from shooting guard to point guard in February. Although the change occurred during the middle of the season, it ended up propelling Duke to a 10-2 run to finish after the move and the 2009 ACC Championship.
Along with All-ACC senior Scheyer will be Kyle Singler, returning to Duke for his junior campaign. The 2007 ACC Freshman of the Year is prepared to make the same leap that Gerald Henderson made last season, becoming a more dominant player in his junior season.
Scheyer and Singler are two key guys that will need to play well for Duke to succeed next season.
Another key player that is looking to make a mark on the program next year will be Nolan Smith. Smith, being the only other guard on roster besides Scheyer, will need to stay healthy in order for Duke to win.
Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek, both seniors, will need to step up next season in the Duke front-court. They will have other players to step in their places if neither can play efficiently or effectively, however.
Mason and Miles Plumlee, along with Ryan Kelly, will look to find their places in the Duke rotation next season. Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly were two highly-rated prospects from the Class of 2009, while Miles Plumlee is still trying to develop into a college player as a sophomore.
The biggest piece of the puzzle, however, could turn out to be Andre Dawkins. Dawkins has already committed to the Duke Class of 2010 as the nation’s No. 2 shooting guard prospect.
Just recently, however, ESPN announced that Dawkins could actually get the opportunity to graduate high school early and enroll into Duke this fall. Dawkins has all but one of the necessary classes needed to graduate completed, and is currently in summer school trying to complete the final class.
If by some chance Dawkins can enroll into Duke this season, it could drastically change the outlook of the entire basketball season for Duke. Not only would it give Duke a strong slasher to basket but also add another guard to the roster.
Having only two guards on the roster could prove costly for a Duke team who just recently added size to the line-up. All it would take would be an injury to either Scheyer or Smith to destroy Duke’s chances of winning a national championship.
Andre Dawkins could add a lot to a Duke team whose two most athletic and versatile players from last year's team are now gone. Dawkins could add his athleticism and his versatility to a team that badly needs it.
Last but not least, Dawkins' possible addition to the roster could put hope and belief back into the fans of a Duke basketball program that always exceeds its great expectations.