Every Duke fan of the last 35 years has his/her favourite players, and can usually make a list based on purely subjective reasoning. We sought to see if there could be a completely objective ranking of those players since Coach K took the helm.
Ro came up with a brilliant idea of giving each player points for certain accomplishments. He assigned a point value to everything a player could be part of, be awarded, and other accolades he could earn.
All of these players won All American and All Conference honours. They all garnered points for making appearances in the Big Dance right on thru to the Final Four. All but one had their jersey retired.
So, in 2 installments, here are:
“Duke’s Top 10 Players Under Coach K … By the Numbers”
#10 – Kyle Singler
Kyle was the type of player every coach dreams of having. He played on a Championship Team, and was a Final Four MVP, and got plenty of points in between. While he was the only guy to earn Conference Rookie of the Year, he is that lone player not to have his jersey retired.
Singler was the last player to start all four years at Duke and more than likely will be the last do so for a while in this “one and done” climate. He was a consistent and steady force throughout his time at Duke.
#9 – Johnny Dawkins
Johnny was Coach K’s superstar. He benefitted greatly by Tommy Amaker, who did not make the list. Johnny won National Player of the Year honours, was All-Rookie, and an all-time NCAA Stat Leader. He was the first of Coach K’s kids to have his jersey retired.
Johnny Dawkins was the foundation, Coach K’s original game changing recruit. He was a 6’2″ player who dominated in a time when the game belonged to the Pivots. Dawkins was Duke’s All-Time Leading Scorer until JJ Reddick surpassed him.
#8 – Bobby Hurley
Bobby will be remembered as the Quarterback of Coach K’s 1st and 2nd National Championships. He got plenty of points for accomplishments, while being awarded a Final Four MVP.
Today, Point Guards tend to be overly athletic or huge. Bobby Hurley was neither of those, being a skillful heady Point Guard. I wonder if Tyus Jones would ever have risen to Hurley’s level if the NBA wasn’t so appealing.
#7 – Danny Ferry
Danny will be forever remembered for the many accolades and appearances he made, but he never led a team to a National Championship. He was National Player of the year, and Conference Tourney MVP, his only one.
If Johnny Dawkins was the foundation recruit for Coach K, Danny Ferry got him over that hump between “one hit wonder” and contender. Ferry lead Duke to 3 Final Fours. An incredible achievement as not many players have done so while setting records in Scoring, Rebounds and Assists. He never won a Championship, however, he set the stage for a certain player (to be named later) in waiting to emerge and take Duke to the promised land.
#6 – Jason Williams
Jason (now Jay) led Duke to Coach K’s next National Championship. For everything he is remembered for, his National Player of the Year stands out in many minds. Surprisingly, Jay never earned Conference honours, but he did break Dick Groat’s 49 year scoring record. He also won the Wooden and the Naismith Awards. Jay played only 3 years. If he had stayed another year and continued his performances, he would have certainly been higher on our list.
I will always remember Jay Williams not for his Championships, or any accolades he received at Duke, but for one game, “The Miracle Minute.” Maryland was at home, leading Duke by 10 points, back in 2001. They were all ready to celebrate their victory over the Blue Devils when Williams put in a brilliant piece of basketball, hardly ever to be repeated, scoring 8 points to send the game into Overtime, where Duke eventually prevailed. An incredible achievement when you consider that the foundation of that Maryland team would win the NCAA Championship a year later. You can find the highlight game here.
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