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Who’s Duke’s Best One-And-Done Player?

Depends on how you ask the question really

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Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks
DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 20: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics celebrates against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on November 20, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. 
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Last week Jason Williams tweeted that Kyrie Irving is “the best player to ever come out of” Duke basketball. While that near-sighted view demonstrates how history can be shaped by the parochialism of personal experience, it does stress a point worth carrying in a different direction – Irving is the best one-and-done player ever to wear a Blue Devil uniform.

That standing is particularly relevant because Mike Krzyzewski has lately run one-year wonders through his program on a constant basis, and in growing batches. And in Marvin Bagley III he apparently has the best one-and-done Duke player of the nine who came and went since Irving, and the two who played before Irving arrived on the scene.

We’re not going to take time to analyze statistics to prove Bagley is best. Not yet. Let’s see what happens over the course of what’s likely his sole season in Durham.

But, as the year unfolds, think about where the Arizonan stands in Duke’s pantheon of pass-through freshmen. Keep in mind that stats can’t fully capture performance. Limited playing time and injuries affect the numbers (see Harry Giles), as do who else is on the team (Corey Maggette), what a player’s role requires, and how long it takes Krzyzewski and staff to figure out where a player best fits in the lineup (Frank Jackson).

And how do you quantify winning plays like Austin Rivers’ crushing 3-pointer to beat UNC at the buzzer in the Smith Center in Feb. 2012, or the lingering impression that Irving was the cream of the (barely mature) crop, yet played only 11 games as a Blue Devil?

Stat Totals Reflect Average Per Game
Player Year Mins. Pts. Rebs. Asts. Team Record
Corey Maggette 1999 691 10.6 3.9 1.5 37-2
Luol Deng 2004 1149 15.1 6.9 1.8 31-6
Kyrie Irving 2011 303 17.5 3.4 4.3 32-5
Austin Rivers 2012 1129 15.5 3.4 2.1 27-7
Jabari Parker 2014 1073 19.1 8.7 1.2 26-9
Jahlil Okafor 2015 1143 17.3 8.5 1.3 35-4
Justise Winslow 2015 1135 12.6 6.5 2.1 35-4
Tyus Jones 2015 1322 11.8 3.5 5.6 35-4
Brandon Ingram 2016 1246 17.3 6.8 2.0 25-11
Jason Tatum 2017 966 16.8 7.3 2.1 28-9
Frank Jackson 2017 896 10.9 2.5 1.7 28-9
Harry Giles 2017 300 3.9 3.8 0.3 28.9

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