With Jabari Parker, will Duke be better next year than this year?
If the season ended today, Mason Plumlee would be the National Player of the Year in my book.
And I know I’m not alone in that line of thinking.
He’s been the best player on the best team, and his schedule is only going to get easier as the season moves along. But Plumlee will graduate at the end of the season, as will Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly, two of Duke’s most important players this season.
And believe it or not, now that Duke has earned a commitment from Chicago standout Jabari Parker, a consensus top three high school player, I think that the Blue Devils are going to be better next year than they are this season.
Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon, assuming neither bolt for the NBA, will give Coach K one of the best back courts in the country. Throw Tyler Thornton and incoming freshman Matt Jones, one of the nation’s top shooting guards, into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a pretty impressive guard rotation. The Blue Devils will be utterly loaded at the forward spot. Alex Murphy, Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson all will be back next season, and none of them will start. That’s what happens when Rodney Hood, the Mississippi State transfer who is redshirting this year, and Parker are on the roster.
As has been the case with the Blue Devils for what feels like the last decade, their entire season is going to come down to the play of a Plumlee. If Marshall can be anything close to what Mason was last season -- a rebounder and a shot blocker -- the Blue Devils look like they will be a serious title contender once again.
Now keep in mind, Kentucky is once against bringing in a loaded recruiting class, and their roster is not yet complete. Will they land Andrew Wiggins and/or Julius Randle? Who, from this year’s team, will be back next season? The answer to those questions will likely be the determining factor in who is next year’s preseason No. 1 team.
Regardless, the point remains: Duke, as always, has a very, very bright future.