It has only been recently that the Duke Blue Devils have begun recruiting players that are so called “one and done” players. These are players that only play one year in college and then jump to the NBA. In the history of Duke Basketball they have only had four players that were these one and done players. Those guys are Corey Maggette, Luol Deng, and more recently Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers.
In the case of both Irving and Rivers, it was expected that they would leave after only playing one year at Duke, but how has this impacted Duke Basketball? Players who leave early are never an easy thing for a coach, especially if they are not ready to leave for the NBA. This is something coaches have to think about in today’s game, because it is accepted today, but was never really a factor before the 1990’s.
Players who leave early are making their coaches think about replacing them before they even set foot on campus. Coaches have to think about who could leave and if they have to recruit a player to replace them at the beginning of the very next year.
The one and done players are also making the incoming freshmen choose more carefully on what school they are going to attend. The incoming freshmen want the right coach, the right situation, and playing time as soon as they get there. This puts even more pressure on high school students and their decision to pick the right school for them.
Duke Basketball has been lucky over the years with only four players to decide to leave after one year at Duke. Having so many McDonald’s All-Americans and having so much success over the years, yet only four players have decided to leave early. This should make Coach K feel quite fortunate.
Some programs are capable of handling the one and done players, but those are programs that are highly established, like North Carolina and Kentucky. However, programs that might not be basketball schools such as Southern California can’t come back from a one and done player like O.J. Mayo. This made USC a team that has been regrouping for years now and still hasn’t become a great team like so many thought after getting one of the best recruits.
The one and done recruit can give a team a great year, but some programs would have to look at it and see if it’s worth it, especially now that players can’t jump straight to the NBA unlike they used to when Kobe Bryant and Lebron James skipped the college game and entered the NBA draft.
Duke Basketball had some great players and teams in the 90’s and it helped that everyone but Maggette stayed longer than one year. In the 1990’s is when Duke won back to back National Championships and was the start of their dominance in the NCAA tournament. If some of their players would have left early, such as Grant Hill or Shane Battier, would Duke have developed this dominant run in the NCAA tournament?
Some of the great players staying at Duke for all four years helped them develop a great run in making the tournament. Duke fans can thank the players for turning down so much money, and they can also thank Coach Mike Krzyzewski for putting together a great program that players want to be a part of and a program so good that players could turn down the NBA to go after a National Championship.