On June 24, 2009, Duke University announced that Elliot Williams would be transferring from the program after just one season. This news left Duke with only two scholarship guards left on roster.
Add to the loss of Williams the departure of Gerald Henderson to the NBA, and you would believe that Duke would have serious problems competing in the always tough Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
These two key players fueled Duke's run to the 2009 ACC Championship and NCAA Sweet 16, and without them, many believed that Duke's reign in the college basketball landscape would take a serious hit.
Then came along 2010 Duke commit Andre Dawkins, ranked the No. 3 shooting guard in his class. Dawkins understood that Duke wouldn't be able to compete at a very high level with only two guards on roster for the 2009-2010 season, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Dawkins discovered that he had the opportunity to take summer classes in order to graduate early, and that's exactly what he did.
Taking the necessary classes to graduate, Dawkins received his high school diploma after passing the final course required this summer. This meant that Dawkins would be allowed to enroll at Duke a year early and join the men's basketball team for the 2009-2010 school year.
As a sophomore in high school, Dawkins was named the Metro Conference Player of the Year and guided Atlantic Shores Academy to a 29-7 overall record.
Last season, Dawkins led his Seahawks to a 32-2 record and an appearance in the Division II State Private School finals. He averaged a little over 21 points and five rebounds a game in his final season with the team.
The sudden addition of Dawkins really got me thinking: "Is there any better backcourt in college basketball than Duke's Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith, and Andre Dawkins?"
Jon Scheyer, a senior this year, was moved to the point guard position midway through last season and really excelled in that role. Scheyer is a great ballhandler who can drain the three and is an exceptional free throw shooter.
Nolan Smith, on the other hand, is an outstanding talent known for his great athleticism. The past few seasons in Durham, players such as Henderson and Williams have overshadowed Smith's athletic ability; however the '09-'10 season should be a breakthrough year for one of last year's starters.
Along with his athleticism, Smith is also noted for his outstanding defensive pressure. Smith is a great perimeter defender who also garners time defending the opposing team's best player.
Scheyer, Smith, and Dawkins: three similar, yet also very different, basketball players.
Scheyer is a great ballhandler, an area where Smith may need some time to correct major flaws. Smith, on the other hand, is the more athletic player out of the three. Finally, Dawkins is one of the best pure shooters Duke has had in recent years.
Between the three players, Duke's backcourt will once again thrive. A once broken team has now rebuilt with Dawkins and should be a force to reckon with for years to come with the likes of Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, and Ryan Kelly, to name a few.
The question still stands: "Is the Duke backcourt the best in the country?"
Yes, I believe they have the potential to be the best. Regardless of the label, however, the Duke Blue Devils will be one of the best overall teams in the '09-'10 college basketball season and will thrive with the three guards they currently have on roster.