May 25, 2005
Lost in the recent headlines about the 108 early-entry players in the NBA draft was the great recruiting week enjoyed by Duke.
With coach Mike Krzyzewski, the beat goes on! The Blue Devils already have arguably the best recruiting class in America for next season, with Josh McRoberts, Greg Paulus and Co. on the way to Durham, N.C. These impact newcomers will complement returning stars such as guard J.J. Redick and big man Shelden Williams.
Now Duke has landed some of the nation's top high school juniors, who will headline the recruiting class for 2006. Yes, the future is bright for Coach K and the Dukies!
Duke's coaching staff including assistants Johnny Dawkins, Steve Wojciechowski and Chris Collins wouldn't relax and take it easy after signing the great 2005 class. When you're selling a solid-gold program, at a school that is so highly acclaimed academically, with great visibility and notoriety, you will reap rewards. Then, factor in the leadership and teaching ability of Krzyzewski and his staff and recruiting for Duke is a win-win situation.
Thanks to the power of the Duke name, the following juniors have committed for 2006
A commitment came from Glenbrook North High School in Illinois as Jon Scheyer, a 6-foot-5 wing player considered by many to be the best in the state, opted for Duke. He led his high school team to the state championship, and his performances were well-documented by the Chicago newspapers. To put it mildly, his exploits were over the top!
Illinois, after reaching this year's national title game, was also in the hunt for Scheyer. Coach Bruce Weber and his kids enjoyed a brilliant 2004-05 season, and the Fightin' Illini would have been a logical choice but Scheyer made a different decision. It was interesting to note that Scheyer's high school coach was Weber's brother. If that doesn't tell you what the legacy, history and tradition of Duke means in recruiting, then figure the name of Krzyzewski also means a lot!
That wasn't the only good news. Another wing player, Gerald Henderson Jr., the son of former NBA guard Gerald Henderson, also chose Duke. One of the best high school players from Pennsylvania, Henderson will be another important part of the Blue Devils' puzzle.
Then came the commitment from a big man: 7-foot-1 Brian Zoubek of Haddonfield High School in Cherry Hill, N.J., picked Duke over Stanford. He will be an important addition when Williams graduates. At 270 pounds, Zoubek will be a physical factor in the middle.
It all relates to the power of Duke. Think about what Coach K has done, then consider the honor he received this week as a "distinguished graduate" of the U.S. Military Academy.
As I wrote in April on ESPN.com and said on TV well before that, Krzyzewski would be an ideal choice to coach our next Olympic basketball team. I hope USA Basketball chief Jerry Colangelo makes that call, since Coach K brings all the qualities of a winner to represent our great nation.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.