With NBA Free Agency dominating the basketball news landscape over the last couple of weeks, I think the consensus would be that this isn’t the time to start talking, or even thinking about the upcoming college basketball season.
That kind of attitude is what separates the good from the great, or something cheesy.
Anyway, Mike Krzyzewski’s heralded freshman class arrived at Duke earlier this week, joining with the rest of the team as they’ve begun taking summer classes and training for what promises to be a season to look forward to for the Cameron Crazies.
As exciting as it is in Durham with the arrival of four of the top-21 players in the high school basketball class of 2014 – Jahlil Okafor (1), Tyus Jones (4), Justise WInslow (15), and Grayson Allen (21) – there was a name added to the final roster that has most Duke fans surprised.
Sean Kelly, brother of Duke great and NBA free agent Ryan Kelly, who has actually been on the Duke bench as a manager for the past few years, will suit up for his Senior year as a walk-on for the Blue Devils. And although the younger Kelly brother may not quite see the minutes that Ryan saw, especially on this stacked team, he stands as good of a chance as any back of the bench Dukie of making some noise in garbage time this year, as this kid can flat-out shoot.
Kelly, but more realistically his four freshman teammates, have big shoes to fill next season as the Blue Devils will be without their two leading scorer’s from last season in Jabari Parker (19.1) and Rodney Hood (16.1). However, despite losing a couple of fantastic perimeter scorers, and a world-class player in Parker, Duke got completely crushed on the boards last season, and flat-out looked like a bad defensive basketball team in their round of 64 embarrassing exit at the hands of Mercer.
The addition of Okafor to a frontline that returns Juniors Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee immediately makes Duke a vastly improved rebounding team, while teaming Jones with Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon should sure up their defense.
Sure, Coach K’s going to be relying an awful lot on Okafor to be everything he’s been built up to be, and as we saw last season with Parker, you really can’t depend on one guy – no matter how incredibly talented he is – to carry a team. This is why landing a crafty point guard in Jones, a vicious perimeter scorer in Allen, and a do-it-all wing in Winslow already makes Duke more of a threat to compete next season than they did this previous year.
Here’s Duke’s full roster for the 2014-15 season.
This is definitely a team to keep an eye on, and it’s certainly not too early to start talking about them.