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Jay Bilas Names His Duke’s Mt. Rushmore Players

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Not much to argue with except for perspective

GRANT HILL DUKE
Grant Hill as a Blue Devil

Bored like the rest of us, Jay Bilas has named the four players he’d put on Duke’s Mt. Rushmore: Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Johnny Dawkins.

That’s a hard list to argue with really so what we’d invite you to consider is who that leaves off:

  • Dick Groat
  • Art Heyman
  • Jeff Mullins
  • Bob Verga
  • Mike Lewis
  • Jack Marin
  • Jim Spanarkel
  • Mike Gminski
  • Gene Banks
  • Kenny Dennard
  • Mark Alarie
  • Danny Ferry
  • JJ Redick
  • Elton Brand
  • Shane Battier
  • Jason Williams
  • Mike Dunleavy
  • Carlos Boozer
  • Chris Carrawell
  • Jon Scheyer
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Marvin Bagley
  • Zion Williamson
  • RJ Barrett
  • Vernon Carey
  • Tyus Jones
  • Tre Jones

There are obviously arguments against most of these guys. We can probably dispense with the one-and-dones with the exception of Zion Williamson who appears to be a transcendent player. We may look back in a few years and revisit that despite the one-year issue.

And we’re not saying we’d change Bilas’s list, just that the players it leaves off are amazing.

He does make one mistake, in our opinion, and that is to leave off players who came before him.

You could make an argument for Dick Groat obviously. The guy was a huge talent. So were Art Heyman, Jeff Mullins, Mike Lewis and Jack Marin. And while Bilas argues that Dawkins was the key player in the Coach K era, Gene Banks might be even more critical because there was Duke pre-Banks and Duke post-Banks.

Bill Foster got Jim Spanarkel when few believed he could be a great college player and got Gminski when he was able to leave high school early at 16 (and compete in the ACC!). Both were steals, in other words. So was Kenny Dennard, who didn't get a ton of recruiting love before coming to Duke.

Banks was different. He was seen as better than Magic Johnson in high school. He was Duke’s first monster recruit after the team began recruiting African-American players and permanently altered the recruiting landscape for the Blue Devils.

Vince Taylor followed a couple of years later, out of Lexington, Kentucky, no less (just like Jeff Mullins before him). It took Coach K a while to master recruiting at Duke, but he did have a recent Final Four to market and an Elite Eight trip in 1980 in Foster’s final tour in Durham.

So selling it to Dawkins, Alarie, Henderson and Bilas wasn't as hard as it might have been otherwise. As we said, there was Duke pre-Banks and Duke post-Banks.