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A List Of Duke’s Top Five Small Forwards With One Big Omission

That’s what happens when you don’t know your history

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Grant Hill during his magnificent Duke career.
Grant Hill during his magnificent Duke career.

The other day we listened to CBS’s Matt Norlander say something about Duke and list a couple of Krzyzewski era players and “some guy from the ‘70s.”

The guy was Gene Banks, who was a huge recruit and did a hell of a lot to revive Duke basketball in the late ‘70s.

It amused and bothered us because like a lot of people, Norlander had no idea that Duke basketball existed before Coach K got to Durham to supercharge it.

Well it did and Coach K would be the first to tell you.

Which brings us to this list of the best Duke small forwards of all time.

Here are their choices:

  • Luol Deng - 5
  • Jabari Parker - 4
  • Kyle Singler - 3
  • Art Heyman - 2
  • Grant Hill - 1

Let’s consider first who's not listed:

  • Kenny Dennard
  • David Henderson
  • Shane Battier
  • Billy King
  • Chris Carrawell
  • Nate James
  • Brian Davis
  • Roshown McLeod
  • Mike Dunleavy
  • Dahntay Jones
  • Dave McClure

There are few cons here. Battier wasn’t necessarily a small forward but he wasn’t really a big forward either. Billy King had no offensive game but was a defensive prodigy. We didn’t list Danny Ferry but was he a big forward? And how do you even categorize people in Duke’s system? Ferry was sort of a 6-10 point forward but his teammate Robert Brickey was a 6-5 guy who mostly played in the paint.

So how do you fit all this in?

Short answer - you don’t, not really. But if you want a list here we’d go with a pretty different list - no offense to the other guys who we didn’t pick.

First, it’s hard to argue that a one-and-done guy can be judged the same as a multi-year player so we’d kick Deng and Parker off the list (and all one-year players for that matter).

Our five would go like this and we kept one name off until the end for the suspense of it and in no particular order:

  • Gene Banks
  • Art Heyman
  • Shane Battier
  • Grant Hill


  • Jack Marin

How could you have this list and not mention Marin? He was a brilliant talent in the Bubas era and had a long and highly successful NBA career. He was absolutely one of Duke’s all-time best players.

No matter how you slice it though, Duke’s history of small forwards is superb.

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