I've spent some time looking at some non-Duke websites to get some reactions to the Amile Jefferson signing.
There seems to be a strong consensus. Duke will squander Jefferson's talents by having him set screens for four seasons, or until he transfers. And Jefferson better brush up on his foreign-language skills, the better for that career in Belarus.
The name Lance Thomas is invoked with some frequency. This would be the Lance Thomas who averaged 14 points and six rebounds as a high-school senior but was recruited by Duke to provide quality defense. Which he did for four years, culminating in a starting spot on an NCAA title team.
But he has had to learn to speak New Orleansian. So, there's that.
Still, if Lance Thomas is one's definition of failure, I guess that's a burden we'll have to bear.
But let's expand the search a tad. Jefferson is listed at anywhere from 6-7 to 6-9. Let's split the difference and call him 6-8. That's not an Elton Brand 6-8, either. Jefferson is a mobile, combo-forward.
Is that historically a recipe for screen-setting at Duke? Let's look at the trend lines. Mobile, combo forwards, in the 6-8 range, top 40 in high school, did not transfer from Duke.
Here's what we have.
Mark Alarie. Four-year starter. Played the 5, the 4, the 3. Two-first-team All-ACC, second-team once. Earned A-A honors as a senior when he averaged 17.2 ppg, on a team that included Johnny Dawkins. First-round NBA pick, solid NBA career until injuries ended it. 2,136 points at Duke.
Grant Hill. Four year starter, first two largely at the 4, last two largely at the 3. Played some point in '92 when Hurley broke foot. Second-team All-ACC as soph, first-team as a junior and senior. ACC POY and first-team A-A in 1994. 1924 career points, 461 assists. Hall of Fame caliber NBA career.
Tony Lang. Role player as freshman, spot starter as soph, starter as junior and senior. Averaged 12.4 ppg as senior, when he made third-team All-ACC. Second-round NBA pick, played in NBA. 1,012 points at Duke.
Roshown McLeod. First two years at St. John's, last two at Duke. Averaged 11.9 and 15.3 ppg at Duke. First-team All-ACC in 1998, when he led a 32-4 team in scoring. First-round NBA draft pick, solid NBA career until injuries ended it.
Shane Battier. Third-team All-ACC as soph, first-team All-ACC as junior and senior. ACC co-player of the year and consensus national POY as a senior, when he averaged 19.9 ppg and led Duke to the 2001 NCAA title. 1,984 points and 239 assists at Duke. Lottery pick and 11-year (and counting) NBA career much lauded for its cerebral, team-oriented qualities.
Mike Dunleavy. Sixth man as freshman, starting 3 as soph, starting 4 as junior. Averaged 17.3 ppg as junior, making first-team All-ACC. Third pick in 2002 NBA draft. Still averaging in double figures in NBA. 1371 points at Duke in three seasons.
Luol Deng. Averaged 15.1 ppg in only year at Duke. Second-team All-ACC and runner-up to Chris Paul for ACC ROY. NCAA Regional MOP. Lottery pick, made All-Star game this season.
Kyle Singler-four-year starter. ACC ROY in 2008. 2010 FF MOP. First-team All-ACC twice, second-team once, third team once. 2392 points. Second-round draft pick. Played in Europe last season, should be in NBA next season.
So, that's an example of how Jefferson's cohorts have been used at Duke. Thomas is the only one never to make All-ACC and the only one to not have at least one season at at least 12 ppg. Singler is the only one to never play in the NBA and that should change.
And all but McLeod played in the Final Four and he ended his career in the Elite Eight.
Think Jefferson was made aware of that history? Darn-tooting.
It's one thing to have an opinion. It's something else to have an opinion so easily refuted with readily-available facts.
Last edited by jimsumner; 05-16-2012 at 03:20 PM.
Great post Mr. Sumner, as usual you have debunked popular notions against Duke by providing hard facts. Duke has a long history of developing versatile forwards, several of whom are playing at a high level in the NBA right now.
I've read a lot of non-Duke articles too and the names I see being tossed around as "proof" that Duke doesn't develop big men are McRoberts, Randolph, Burgess, and the Plumlees. Even Brand and Boozer are described as being overrated in the NBA and disappointing as of late. The comments by Mason's high school coach were pretty damning, as were the quotes from Tony Parker and Mitch McGary which seem to validate the "word on the street" about Duke.
I think a lot of fans are infatuated with traditional, low-post big men. It doesn't seem as "cool" to have a Shane Battier who does a little bit of everything. And I do think it's fair to say that Duke has not had an elite player who fits this description since Boozer. My personal opinion is that these types of players just don't come around very often, and when they do they rarely stay in college more than a year, so Coach K has decided not to build his style of play around this type of player. That's just my opinion though.
I don't expect Jefferson to change this perception, seeing as he's not a traditional low-post player either. I'm hoping Mason can quiet the critics by having a breakout year, but even if he plays great and becomes a lottery pick, some will call him a disappointment because it took him four years to get there. So regardless, the haters are gonna hate.
So again, I find it very amusing that people and even some recruits will fall into the negative, unfounded perceptions about Duke eventhough one could say similar things about other high profile schools and programs.
Can someone teach me how to hack so I can give more pitchforks?
As always, Jim, A+ stuff.
While I agree with what you've said, Jim, I'm not sure how relevant it is. The discussion was regarding Duke big men. Jefferson is not a big man. He's a Duke combo forward. Duke combo forwards (especially those who can shoot) have historically thrived.
The "Duke big men set screens" argument was a more relevant point of discussion for guys like McGarry and Parker - not so much Jefferson.
Repeating this ad nauseum doesn't make it less absurd of a concept. If we recruited players with the intention to have them "only set screens", wouldn't we be better served to lock up some 6'6" 225lb tight-end esque human beings and not consensus Top-25-rated, lanky, slender, talented scoring basketball players?
While I appreciate the effort Jim put into writing the post, I'm not sure why it was necessary to post it on DBR.
I'm not sure there are people on here who buy into the, "Our bigs only rebound and set screens," garbage. It's the old preaching to the choir thing.
I did look at IC yesterday to see what their reaction would be and it was a mixture of laughing at State and at Amile, as they were indeed talking about Lance Thomas and talking about how K would ruin the kid.
My only critique is that you are engaging ignorance on its own terms. It's all about how the conversation is framed. I refuse to cede ground to people who say bigs are "wasted" when screening.
Screening is an essential part of basketball at every single level of play, and is utilized by every team in the NBA multiple times per games. Some offenses are built entirely around screening. Screening enhances post scoring through either pick and pops or pick and rolls.
When people want to argue this, tell them to look no further than the last 76ers-Celtics -- Doc Rivers runs a screen for Pierce because that is best way to get an open look, and then Kevin Garnett costs the Celtics the chance at a win because he did not set a proper screen!
Screening is solid, fundamental ball and any coach who does not teach his big to screen often and screen hard is depriving them of a skill they need in the NBA. If am an NBA prospect or a potential, I want the coach that is going to teach me every possible skill to help me achieve my dreams...
Of course, your arguments, while reasonable and accurate, are probably pointless. Irrational arguments (and sports fandom tends to be such a topic) is rarely won with reason.
“Those two kids, they’re champions,” Krzyzewski said of his senior leaders. “They’re trying to teach the other kids how to become that, and it’s a long road to become that.”
I'm sure that Duke's detractors probably don't handle facts as well as Jim does, but there is certainly no need for anyone to jump on the ridiculous screen-setting bandwagon. It seems that no one remembers that Duke had the best team in the country in 2009-10 and then again the next year until Kyrie was hurt. That was only one and two years ago, but you would think it happened during the Johnny Wooden era.
It's also strange to read in the N&O that Chris Collins had to call Mason's high school coach to clear the air, which I think is a polite way of explaining the readily available facts and asking him to keep his opinions to himself. The article also points out that despite all the apparent upheaval, Duke has the talent for a very productive season, which I think we all expect to happen:
"With Plumlee back in the fold and Jefferson on board, the frontcourt should have a number of possibilities.
It seems likely that either Tyler Thornton or Quinn Cook will enter the 2012-13 season starting at point guard, joined by Seth Curry at shooting guard, redshirt freshman Alex Murphy or incoming freshman Rasheed Sulaimon at small forward, Ryan Kelly at power forward and Plumlee at center.
Jefferson and Josh Hairston seem likely to see significant minutes off the bench, and there also may be a role for Marshall Plumlee, a 6-foot-11 redshirt freshman, depending on how he develops.
“I think it would be a disappointment if those guys weren’t ready,” ESPN.com recruiting analyst Dave Telep said about Murphy and Marshall Plumlee. “They’ve had a whole year now and have basically taken an apprenticeship at Duke University. I think the expectation is those guys have to be ready to come in and help out.”
What that all means for the Blue Devils is that, despite the hand-wringing from some this spring, they are still returning four starters and adding a number of talented newcomers to a team that went 27-7 and finished second in the ACC with a 13-3 record."
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/05/...#storylink=cpy