Duke Basketball: Mason Plumlee's Decision to Return for His Senior Year Is Huge

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IApril 10, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 09: Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils looks to pass against C.J. Barksdale #42 and Erick Green #11 of the Virginia Tech Hokies  in their Quarterfinal game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 9, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Mason Plumlee is returning for his senior season at Duke, according to a report on the team's official website.

That may be the best news that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has heard this spring.

The information that Plumlee reportedly received from NBA executives, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, is that he would have been a late first-round pick that could slip into the second round.

Plumlee had a solid junior season, averaging 11.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

If the 6'10" rising senior would have entered the draft, Coach K and the Blue Devils would have lacked any genuine inside experience or talent on the 2012-13 roster.

Ryan Kelly (11.8 ppg; 5.4 rpg) has the size (6'11" 230 lbs) but likes to play the perimeter on offense and lacks the mindset and skills to be a legitimate low-post defender.

It remains to be seen what redshirt freshmen Marshall Plumlee (6'11", 220 lbs) and Alex Murphy (6'8" 220 lbs) will bring after a year of development in the program. It is unclear yet whether either of them can provide quality minutes off the bench.

Josh Hairston has a great motor but is undersized (6'7") to play either PF or C at this level.

It is possible that Duke could land one of the remaining undecided recruits in the Class of 2012.

While Alex Oriakhi (transfer from UConn) has not officially removed the Blue Devils from his short list, it is not likely that he will be coming to Durham, as he has four teams on the list right now.

The best of the remaining high school Bigs is Tony Parker (6'9", 270 lbs) of Lithonia, GA. He has seven finalists (Duke, UGA, Ohio State, Kansas, UCLA, Memphis and Georgetown) and claims that he has no leaders at this time.

For now, the Blue Devils can breathe a sigh of relief. Even if they do not reel in another recruit besides McDonald's All American and three-point champ Rasheed Sulaimon, they will enter the 2012-13 season with an experienced roster that should be a top-10 program that challenges for the ACC title.