Duke became the laughingstock of the NCAA Tournament when they lost to Mercer in their first game, forfeiting a 3 seed and Final Four hopes while busting brackets across America. Jabari Parker could very well leave college having never won an NCAA Tournament game, and if he and fellow stud Rodney Hood turn pro the Blue Devils will be dangerously inexperienced heading into next season.
But what if Parker returns for his sophomore season, as Chad Ford and NBA scouts have speculated?
And if Parker comes back, does he have enough sway to convince Hood to join him in delaying his NBA dream for a year? They’re both NBA ready right now but if Parker’s leaning toward returning to Durham to pursue an NCAA title, it would behoove him to get his top running mate on board as well.
Coach K’s cupboard is far from bare either way, as he continues to collect McDonald’s All-Americans at will. He’s got 4 coming in, including the #1 rated recruit Jahlil Okafor (last night’s co-MVP) and Powerade Jam Fest Slam Dunk Contest winner Grayson Allen.
There’s a reason Krzyzewski is the highest paid coach in college basketball. (Jim Boeheim is 23rd.)
(And, oh by the way, North Carolina is responsible for the other 3 All-Americans coming to the ACC and they return the vast majority of a supremely talented roster so they’re also going to be really, really good.)
But obviously the difference between this depth chart and one again featuring Parker and Hood on the wings is pronounced.
Quinn Cook, Matt Jones, Justise Winslow, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee is an above average ACC line-up and that could be Duke’s second unit. And they’d be backing up the best starting five in the country by far, featuring Tyus Jones, Rasheed Sulaimon, Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, and Jahlil Okafor.
Parker and Okafor represent a legitimate opportunity for the Dukies to produce the top 2 picks in the 2015 NBA Draft, plus another likely lottery pick in Hood.
Hopefully the loss of assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski is a bigger blow than anyone realizes, or it’s going to be an unbearable season for Duke haters. In the Parker-Hood-Okafor scenario, an undefeated run is not out of the question and everyone in the country (not just the helpless ACC) will be playing for second place.
*Silver Lining Epilogue: If Jerami Grant listens to scouts and comes back, he should combine with Jordan Brand Classic selection Chris McCullough to at least make the Cuse a strong candidate for third place in the conference hierarchy.