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Picking Duke Basketball’s Finest

Undeniably it’s a challenge

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NCAA Basketball Tournament - East Regional - Washington DC
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 31: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after being called for a foul in the East Regional game of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 31, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

When you look at the so-called Bluebloods - for argument’s sake let’s say Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and you can pick a couple of others - one of the measures of greatness is the players you’d pick as their all-time best.

This site takes a run at Duke’s list and here's who they picked:

  • Dick Groat
  • Art Heyman
  • Jeff Mullins
  • Mike Gminski
  • Johnny Dawkins
  • Danny Ferry
  • Christian Laettner
  • Bobby Hurley
  • Grant Hill
  • Trajan Langdon
  • Elton Brand
  • Shane Battier
  • Carlos Boozer
  • Jason Williams
  • Chris Duhon
  • JJ Redick
  • Shelden Williams
  • Kyle Singler
  • Marvin Bagley
  • Zion Williamson

First there’s the issue of recency bias: Jack Marin, Mike Lewis and Bob Verga would have to be considered, and Tate Armstrong, who was just the second Blue Devil to play in the Olympics (1976), should be too. And what about Gene Banks and Jim Spanarkel?

In the Coach K era, which we might as well call the modern era, look how many players you have to think about: Mark Alarie, Tommy Amaker, Mike Dunleavy, Billy King, among others.

And while Marvin Bagley and Zion Williamson were spectacular in their sole seasons at Duke, Jon Scheyer played four and was point guard on a national championship team. No one would take Scheyer over Williamson but he arguably had a better career.

And as great as Kyrie Irving has been in the NBA, he only played seven games at Duke.

It’s a tough thing to do, but this isn’t a bad list. We might expand it a bit to accommodate the depth of talent.

Here’s another interesting approach: the best players by jersey number.