Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/13/13
Duke basketball is set for this season.  Everyone is about to start classes, and Midnight Madness is only two months away.  This means that teams will have to start replacing everything they could lose this season.  While Duke only has three seniors this year, they could lose much more than that off of this year’s team.  This is a big challenge for coaches, with players leaving early, they have to think logically who they will have to replace for next season before they know. This season Duke has three seniors with Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston, and Todd Zafirovski.  This will be an interesting senior class because they will lose three quality players, but none is a starter.  Thornton and Hairston will be strong contributors, while Zafirovski won’t have much impact at all.  With a senior class like this, most teams would be looking at next season to bring back most of their team, but Duke is not like most teams. The number of players that Duke could lose after this season is seven.  The three seniors are going to open up at least three scholarships for next year, one of which is already taken by Grayson Allen.  It is very unlikely to be the only players leaving from this year’s team, however. The two players that would surprise everyone if they played at Duke after this season are Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood.  Parker has said that he isn’t looking to leave Duke after one year.  But while some players have stayed after most people thought they would be going pro, such as Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Harrison Barnes from North Carolina, these could have been looked at as mistakes.  Smart has already come out and stated that he won’t pass on the draft next year and North Carolina didn’t have the year everyone thought they would in Barnes’ second year. Parker and Hood are likely to enter the NBA draft after this season, which would put it at five players leaving Duke after this season.  That leaves the last two players who have a chance of leaving, which are Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon–both are players that have a good chance to leave for the NBA after this season.  They will have to be more consistent this season, but if they do that they could be looking at first round picks.  Cook and Sulaimon would make it seven players that could be leaving after this year which, with a bad recruiting class, could hurt the Blue Devils after this season.  It is a possibility that Duke could lose seven players including four starters.  This could be what Coach Krzyzewski is looking at as a potential option for his team with as many players he is recruiting this year.  He has recruited over ten players this year, and while a few have taken Duke off of their list, many are still considering coming to Durham. The importance of the upcoming recruiting class is signing a center or a power forward.  They will be losing Hairston and more than likely Parker, which will leave them with Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee.  The other important recruiting strategy might be getting a point guard.  Duke could be losing both of theirs in Thornton, who will be graduating, and Cook who could leave early for the NBA. This could be a coach’s hardest job, making sure you keep everyone happy and also trying to recruit like they could leave.  Coach Krzyzewski is recruiting one of the best point guards, if not the best, in Tyus Jones by all reports he is recruiting him more than anyone else.  That could be because of the potential of Cook and Thornton leaving after this season.  Even if Duke loses seven players this year Duke fans had enough experience that Coach Krzyzewski will get the recruits he needs.  It probably helps recruiting that so many NBA players love playing for Coach Krzyzewski as well.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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