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College Basketball Preview: 4. Duke Blue Devils

4. Duke Blue Devils

Throughout most of last season, the Duke Blue Devils were the nation's best team. Sure, things ended a little bit short as the Blue Devils lost a close one to eventual champ Louisville. Duke will lose Ryan Kelly, who missed a lot of last year with injuries and Mason Plumlee but it is Duke and that means contention. The ACC will be very tough this next year but the Blue Devils have the talent to be a Final Four team this year.

Backcourt: Quinn Cook is one of the ACC's most underrated players. The junior has proven he can be a very productive point guard. He has speed and has great court vision, while also able to score in a number of ways. Likely to start alongside Cook in the backcourt will be sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon. Sulaimon lived up to the hype of a five-star prospect last year and can dominate on the perimeter. Sulaimon has good size for shooting guard and should mature in big ways this year. His shot is smooth and he will get more opportunities with Seth Curry gone. Senior Andre Dawkins is also back after a redshirt year. Dawkins was expected to be a big time player when he signed with Duke but has struggled to make an impact. Dawkins can shoot and has proven to be a solid defender. Dawkins should also bring much needed experience and smarts for a pretty young backcourt. Senior Tyler Thornton brings shooting and maturity at shooting guard. Thornton hasn't gotten enough minutes to make much of an impact in Durham but could get the opportunity this season. Coach K managed to bring in Texas product Matt Jones who brings a lot of versatility. Jones has good shooting range and can also get to the rim with his dribble.

Frontcourt: The No. 2 prospect in the land, Jabari Parker, will be force from the beginning for Duke. Parker can play both forward positions and brings athleticism and scoring. Parker has a fluid shot and can stretch the floor but can also be a force above the rim. Parker is a solid all-around prospect but still has some things to work on; at times he gets lost on defense and might struggle with turnovers this year. Another newcomer, Rodney Hood, should also have a huge impact. Hood, a transfer from Mississippi State who sat out last year, brings a lot of different abilities. Hood, a sophomore, isn't as polished on the offensive end as Parker but is a solid rebounder and defender. Hood has good size and the ability to get to the rim and finish through contact. The only question on the frontcourt for Duke will be the center position: Plumlee's graduation leaves a big hole. His brother, the youngest Plumlee, Marshall is expected to compete for the job. The sophomore is still very raw offensively but he has the size and strength to be a considerable force. Marshall added 25 pounds to his frame this off season which should help him gain position easier in the low post. Marshall plays a lot like his other brother Miles, as he is a solid rebounder and plays strong defense but isn't very athletic. Sophomore Amile Jefferson will also compete for minutes in this great frontcourt after a solid freshman year. Jefferson has good size and has the potential to grow into a dominant forward. Though, he is still young and makes bad decisions at times. 6-7 freshman Semi Ojeleye brings an interesting mix of athleticism and playmaking. Ojeleye can stretch the floor with his great shooting ability which will help with Ryan Kelly gone, who stretched it for Duke last season. Senior Josh Hairston appears to be more athletic and will fight for more minutes this year.

Recruiting Rundown (according to
No. 2 Prospect, No. 2 SF Jabari Parker, SF from Chicago, Illinois
No. 36 Prospect, No. 6 SG Matt Jones, SG from DeSoto, Texas
No. 40 Prospect, No. 10 SF Semi Ojeleye, SF from Ottawa, Kansas

PG Quinn Cook, Junior
SG Rasheed Sulaimon, Sophomore
F Jabari Parker, Freshman
F Rodney Hood, Sophomore
C Marshall Plumlee, Sophomore
Sixth Amile Jefferson, Sophomore

Coach K once more has a championship caliber team this year but they are some questions. The ACC is now the premier basketball conference and will challenge the Blue Devils and Duke must find a consistent center. If they do, a Final Four is a real possibility.

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