Duke has had 83 players go into the NBA from their program, which puts them at the fourth-most all time behind Kentucky, UCLA, and UNC.
At point guard, Duke would be represented by Bobby Hurley. When you think about Duke the best duo in the country in 1992, it was Laettner and Hurley. He is one of the best point guards in NCAA history. He still holds the most assists in the NCAA with 1076. He also holds a Duke record with 16 assists in one game.
Hurley was a confident player who knew what to do with the ball. He played a style of basketball that always involved his teammates first. One play that sparked Duke’s run in 1991 was his three against UNLV that put Duke within two points. They ended up winning that game because of Hurley.
At shooting guard would be none other than JJ Redick. He was an outstanding sharp shooter at Duke and is still shooting the ball well in the NBA. Redick averaged 19 points per game and 40% from beyond the arc. In his senior year at Duke, Redick won the Naismith Award for College Basketball’s Top Player. Along with that award, Reidck was AP Player of the Year in 2005-06. He is a top shooter in the NBA, but at Duke, he was hated for how great he was.
“Really no player has played any better than J.J. Redick played at Duke for four years,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Of course, Reidck does not compare to players on the ‘91 or ‘92 Duke team, but he sure does rank among them.
At small forward is Grant Hill. He is one of the best all-around players in the NCAA. Averaging 14 points and six rebounds per game, he was the defensive help that pushed Duke for their back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992. We can’t forget Hill was the one on the baseline who threw the ball to Laettner on his infamous shot. Again, Hill led Duke to the Championship Game in 1994; however, they lost that game to Arkansas 72-76. He won the NABC Defensive Player of the Year in ‘93 and ACC POY in ‘94. In his college days, people were comparing him to Michael Jordan before entering the NBA.
At the power forward position, Duke is represented by Zion Williamson. Williamson is the most hyped prospect since LeBron James. Standing at 6’7” and 285 lbs; he is a freak athlete and for his size he can jump. At the Duke combine, Williamson had a 40” vertical. Playing at Duke, he was a defensive threat and barely let players score on him.
Offensively he was a tank; no one could stop him. The way Williamson could move around a defender and create space at his size is unlike any other player in the NBA and NCAA. He was the only player in the NCAA to put up 20 points and eight rebounds per game. The 35 points from Williamson against Syracuse was the most points scored by a freshman in Duke history. At the end of the season, he swept the six major National Player Awards; becoming the fourth Duke player to do so.
At center is none other than Christian Laettner. He is arguably the most hated college basketball player to date, but what he did on the court is unlike any player. Laettner will go down as the greatest college basketball player there is. He holds records for most NCAA Tournament games played (23) and won 21 of those games, which is also a record.
Laettner is arguably one of the most clutch players in NCAA history. When you think of March Madness, Laettner’s ‘The Shot’ comes into mind, or the shot against UCONN. Laettner is the definition of winning, with four years of going to the Final Four and two National Championships with Duke. His awards only highlight his greatness; Naismith Award for College Basketball’s Top Player and NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player just to name a few. Laettner is one of Duke’s greatest athletes.
Duke basketball each year does not disappoint with the level of talent brought to the team. Will this lineup change as the years pass by? Probably, but at the end of the day, Duke still breeds future NBA players.