There are some tantalizing what-ifs when it comes to Duke recruiting.
The first great one was Bill Bradley. Bradley was planning to come to Duke where he would have joined with Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins. He changed his mind late after his father convinced him to go to Princeton instead. The late Carroll Youngkin told us that Duke coach Vic Bubas broke a golf club when he heard.
In the early ‘70’s, Duke recruited both Bill Walton and David Thompson. The odds of getting either were probably not that great but what if Duke had gotten both?
Fab Five hero/villain Chris Webber nearly chose Duke. Mike Krzyzewski reportedly said if he had chosen Duke the Blue Devils would have won the national championship every year he was in Durham.
And in perhaps the most tantalizing what-if because it could easily have happened: what if Duke had gotten Stephen Curry - as a walk-on?
Hindsight is 20-20, but Duke had a chance to get Curry as a walk-on in his freshman year and passed, with Johnny Dawkins telling the family that Duke had a full roster but they’d be interested the next year.
Curry of course chose Davidson and carved out an unforgettable career.
We remember hearing or reading Mike Krzyzewski looking back and saying that they knew Curry was good but they thought he was a bit small.
Things worked out okay for both parties. Curry was in the same class as Jon Scheyer and Scheyer helped Duke to the national championship in 2010.
Curry’s brother, Seth, also overlooked as a high school player (you’d think people would have learned) went to Liberty and had a sensational freshman year before transferring to Duke. He was on the 2010 team too but had to sit out as a transfer.
Imagine though if Duke had had Scheyer, Nolan Smith, the elder Curry, Kyle Singler, Miles and Mason Plumlee, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek.
Of course life doesn’t work that way: if Duke had Curry, who was superb at Davidson, Smith would almost certainly have gone elsewhere.
Still, it’s fun to think about, if a bit painful.