We don't want to get too carried away about this, but every so often, a kid
comes in and there's a buzz. When Bill Foster found Jim Spanarkel, Kenny
Dennard, and Mike Gminski, all of them were much better than anyone knew.
When Elton Brand showed up, it was clear pretty quickly that he was much, much
better than anyone thought - and they all thought he was pretty good. With a
one-person freshman class, you can see where we're going.
The things we're hearing about Luol Deng are pretty impressive. People
start by saying he's not an elite-level athlete, but he's not far off. Then they
go on to laud his court sense and his grasp of the game. One person said that he
won't be playing with Duke's returnees; they'll be playing with him, which makes us wonder - gee, how would he and Livingston work together?
This level of praise would be intense for anyone, but for a kid who learned
the game first from Manute Bol, then learned more in London before coming to the
States a couple of years ago - well, that's no one's plan for greatness.
And we're not saying he's great, certainly not at this point. You never
know what a freshman will do when a crowd is there (think Dudley Bradley and
Kevin Strickland), and there's still a big leap from summer hoops with guys who
are good players, including teammates, to ACC-level basketball.
That said, there is an undeniable buzz about Deng, and it may turn out that he has a rare gift for the game. Is it hype? Is
he the real deal? Hey, it's almost August. Answers are coming soon.