Are we witnessing the last and greatest one-and-done compilation squad in college basketball?
So it’s looking like Duke Vs the world again this year in men’s college hoops.
At least that’s what everyone is saying after Coach K’s “Lethal Freshman 3” R.J. Barrett (33 points), Zion Williamson (28 points) and Cam Reddish (22 points) combined to score 1 less point than No. 2 ranked Kentucky’s entire team in the Blue Devils’ NBA style 118-84 thrashing of John Calipari’s title hopefuls.
Freshman Tre Jones chipped in six points too.
Coach K has the Top 3 freshman in the country on one squad and they’re all just about pro ready. The social media mill is flowing with hyperbole today as the college basketball world is drunk off the masterful dominance of Duke’s blue chip recruits.
Nobody expected such a beatdown, but the season is long and March Madness has a way of evening things out in the end. There was a certain Kentucky team that went undefeated in 2014-15 and lost in the Final Four. Things happen over the course of a season, so don’t go betting the rent money on Duke to steam roll to the chip.
In one night, Duke went from the No. 4 team in the country (according to preseason AP rankings) to potentially the greatest compilation of freshman talent in history, possibly rivaling the Fab Five. It’s a new ball game.
Now Duke is the hunted. Kansas was No. 1 entering its win over Michigan State, but what we saw from Duke elevates them to the top spot even if the polls refuse to do it when they are released. Here are my Top 3 takeaways from last night’s game.
1. I’m not going crazy over one game.
It’s still early in the season and Kentucky has to improve and develop a chemistry as they also have a top-ranked recruiting class that Calipari is trying to mesh with returning sophomores and a fifth-year senior.
Duke used its embarrassment of riches to overpower a Wildcats team that is probably a shell of what it will be come tournament time. The victory was dominating and Duke’s three frosh phenoms all represented, but every game won’t be this easy. They play in a tough ACC Conference in some rowdy and vicious enemy arenas. Don’t expect these guys to just run the table, but expect them to run off at least 10 in a row before they start facing legit competition against No. 22 Clemson to launch the ACC schedule.
2. Coach K’s biggest task will be managing personalities
Coach K won’t have to do much as far as X’s and O’s go. The legendary coach probably has the most talent he’s ever assembled for one season. Keeping his thoroughbreds happy and hungry and ignoring the hype, and headlines is forever his goal. Hopefully, they can stay focused on the goal which is to win a National Championship, leave a legacy at Duke and THEN dip off to pursue the riches of NBA life.
3. The Last, Greatest One-and-Done College Team?
With the NBA’s new rule allowing high school seniors to enter the G-League at 18 and get paid six figures while honing their games against pro competition, the one-and-done rule in college will eventually become obsolete unless a player is financially stable and truly wants to enjoy one year of the big-time college experience.
None of Duke’s freshman would have attended college if there wasn’t a 19-year-old-age eligibility restriction in place. This may be the last team with pro-ready freshman of this ilk that college basketball ever sees and it’s fitting that it’s greatest modern era coach gets to see what he can do with a special group of future pros.
Guys who he probably won’t make play any better individually, but can inspire to accomplish legendary things as a unit.