Should Coach Mike Krzyzewski & his Duke Blue Devils be considered for NCAA Basketball picks next season, after winning the National Championship in 2015?
Bye Bye, So Long, Farewell
It pretty much sounds like a home run call in a baseball game, but with "one and done" form of recruiting, college basketball has changed a lot as a sport and we're going to see a lot more of this as players can't risk injury with one more season in college and can't resist the money that the NBA has to offer.
In the Blue Devils case, they did such a bang up job of recruiting, they really need to work hard in the off season and it's not likely that this Duke team will be the one that had Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow. Duke does have one player in their back pocket in Tyus Jones and his decision of playing in the NBA next year and being drafted as a possible late 1st round NBA Draft or playing for the Blue Devils another year and upping his stock is in question.
The Wild Card
We all know that Tyus Jones is NBA material. He was the best player in the NCAA Championship victory over Wisconsin, but another year at Duke could put him in the lottery. I don't specifically know how this works, but if Jones played another year at Duke, he would have to take out an insurance policy due to the risk of an injury.
While Okafor and Winslow were "NBA ready" and Jones' statistics weren't necessarily top notch, Jones played in the best conference in college basketball in the ACC and in my mind, was the most clutch player on the team.
I thought that he was clutch way before his 23 point, 5 rebound performance against Wisconsin. There was a game in which Duke was down by nearly double-digits with 2 minutes to go at Cameron Indoor Stadium during the season (against UNC) and Jones single-handedly got them back in the game and earned them a victory.
For the season, Jones averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.5 rebounds per game. If he played one more season at Duke, his numbers would skyrocket as there would be no Quinn Cook and he would be the man running the show. This would be a great decision for Coach Krzyzewski and the best decision for Jones. That said, the NBA is alluring and he could head off for the big show and all of this would be a mute point.
Grayson Allen didn't have a chance to showcase his skills this season because Duke was simply loaded. However, when your team is down by 9 points in the championship game, a coach will turn to the best option and Grayson Allen came out of nowhere to state his case.
Allen poured in 16 points in 21 minutes and along with Jones, was the key to victory. If you notice, the interviewers weren't interviewing Jahlil Okafor, they were interviewing Allen as he showed the heart of a champion and came though in clutch situations. Don't think that Coach K won't forget that. This kid has a bright future ahead of him and his game would surely benefit if Tyus Jones stays.
Obviously, recruits play a major role in the present time in the NCAA and Duke has 6 foot 10 Chase Jeter (#9 in ESPN's top 100 Recruits) and shooting guard, Luke Kennard, coming into the mix. Kennard is listed at #23 and also has fantastic size as a shooting guard. He would also benefit from another season of Tyus Jones.
Also returning is, Amile Jefferson and he'll bring Duke some experience and a presence on the boards. Jefferson will play a much bigger role on the team and this is basically his time to show NBA scouts that he's capable of playing on the next level. Rakeem Christmas did it for Syracuse with a monster season and Jefferson has that same opportunity.
As long as Mike Krzyzewski is coach of Duke, they'll be a contender, but to be a real elite contender, Jeter and Kennard will need to be the real deal and more importantly, Coach K, needs to convince Tyus Jones to stay another season; easier said than done.