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Tatum Picks His All-Time Blue Devils

These lists are always fun

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics
Jun 16, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) handles the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter in game six of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden. 
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Well this is an interesting approach - former Blue Devil Jayson Tatum was looking for five all-time Blue Devils and offers eight candidates:

  • Grant Hill
  • Christian Laettner
  • JJ Redick
  • Jason Williams
  • Shane Battier
  • Jabari Parker
  • Jahlil Okafor
  • Zion Williamson

It’s always a tough choice on these things but following his formula of eight-to-get-to-five, here are our eight:

  1. Grant Hill
  2. Christian Laettner
  3. Shane Battier
  4. Zion Williamson
  5. Art Heyman
  6. Dick Groat
  7. Bobby Hurley
  8. Johnny Dawkins

The first difference is the only one-and-done on the list is Williamson, who had an immense impact. We’ll never see that again.

When you look at more of the history, it’s impossible to ignore Groat, who we believe led the nation in points and assists, which is a phenomenal accomplishment.

As for Heyman, other than Vic Bubas, no one is more responsible for Duke emerging as a national brand in the early ‘60s. It’s hard to imagine the decades of success - Duke has made the Final Four in every decade since - without Heyman. He also is the single most responsible person on either side for taking the Duke-UNC thang to thermonuclear levels.

Hurley set and still holds the NCAA record for assists. That’s hard to ignore. He also won two championships with Laettner and Hill, who are both going to be on most people’s lists.

If Heyman kicked Duke into high gear, Dawkins was as responsible as anyone for Duke’s ascent to iconic under Mike Krzyzewski.

As for Battier, we think he may have been the finest leader Duke has ever had.

The problem with lists is who you have to leave off. We had to pass on Jason Williams, JJ Redick and Gene Banks, among others. Banks is kind of overlooked in these sorts of exercises, but he played a vital role in restoring Duke in the 1970’s. He was probably Duke’s biggest recruit since Heyman and wasn’t really matched in that sense until Danny Ferry committed to Duke.