Kyrie Irving will be all accounts, give his attentions to attend Duke tomorrow on ESPNU. Certainly a good get for Coach K and staff. Harrison Barnes may be to follow, which would give Duke a great recruiting class.
Where does this leave the program as a whole? Irving will be joined on the perimeter in 2010 by Tyler Thornton, Andre Dawkins, Nolan Smith, and Seth Curry. If Barnes comes along, add him as well. Now that leaves up front, the Plumlee brothers, Ryan Kelly, Josh Hairston and Olek Czyz. Czyz is just 6’7 and did not see much action at all his freshmen season. Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston both a ¾ hybrids who are face up offensive players. Leaving the pressure on the Plumlee’s, Miles and Mason. This year should go along way in seeing what they can bring to the table for the future. The wild card of course would by Kyle Singler but odds are he finds his way into the top half of the first round this year.
This is not to rain on the Duke parade. But before they are once claimed again as the nation’s top program and NCAA titles are on the way, there is still a gaping hole on the roster. Are those bigs good fits for Coach K’s current system, sure? Are they tough enough? Can they defend the paint or score in it? I don’t know, my gut says no.
No doubt they have increased the level of talent this past year in the program, and while they may feel they are on their way to attracting the next Jay Williams and Shane Battier, does it matter if there is not the next Carlos Boozer or Elton Brand? There is not even a Shelden Williams as far as I can see. While some have questioned Coach K’s recruiting and ability to want and go get the top flight talent, a problem in the foundation of the roster still is there.
Perhaps I’m proved wrong by the collection of finesse big men or one or two of them become physical players. But as of right now, all that talent on the wing is going to need help inside. The good (or bad) thing about these players now becoming Dukies, is they are not 1 and done talents. Irving would project to be a 3-4 year player, Barnes 2-3. So they may just be good enough on the wing to get by. Maybe they land a stud big man in 2011, but all indications are a main target of Duke’s is Austin Rivers, who, you guessed it, is an elite guard.