But on Friday afternoon, the Blue Devils were welcoming with open arms two more potential one-and-done prospects when Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones committed to Duke.
If Jabari Parker bolts after this season* and Jones and Okafor both leave after one year like Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers, that would make the Blue Devils an "extended stay hotel" for five players in five years. Even if one of the three sticks around longer—Jones maybe?—that's still four in five years.
(*Raise your hand if you don't think Parker is going pro...I'm not seeing any hands. You in the back? Nope. Nobody.)
Has Coach K changed his stance?
Not exactly. But it's a lot easier to win in today's college basketball with these guys than without them. And Coach K likes to win.
This season, it should work out beautifully. He's built his offense around Parker and Rodney Hood, another guy who could be one-and-done as far as his playing time at Duke. And if you watched the Champions Classic on Tuesday, you saw a team good enough to make the Final Four and maybe even win the title. Yes, I realize the Blue Devils lost, but they lost to another supremely talented team built in a similar fashion.
The fact that Parker will be around for only one year isn't going to be what holds Duke back. If anything, it's the lack of a talented big man.
And looky there, Coach K just found one of those in Okafor.
The big man out of Chicago might be the most talented big man Krzyzewski has ever coached. He'll be the first since Carlos Boozer who has a post game good enough to dominate on the college and NBA levels.
Anyone who argued Okafor should have gone elsewhere because Coach K's system is best suited for talented guards has a point. But I'll bet Okafor becomes the first big man to lead Duke in scoring since Elton Brand. Krzyzewski knows he'll have one of the best weapons—if not the best—in college basketball next year. He's going to adjust and he's going to feed Okafor.
Is that what's best for his program?
The Blue Devils won the title in 2010 with three seniors and two juniors in their starting lineup and haven't been back to the Final Four since all the one-and-dones started arriving. Coach K also didn't win a title with his other one-and-dones: Corey Maggette and Luol Deng.
But I guarantee you he doesn't regret taking any of those guys. And if Kyrie Irving didn't miss most of his freshman season, Duke may have repeated in 2011.
The teams with the best chance to win a title year in and year out are going to be the teams that mix experience with one-and-done talent. Duke in 2010 and Louisville last year will be the exceptions. Until the NBA changes its age limit, those who build like Coach K is building, like Bill Self is building, like John Calipari is building, will rule.
And yes, Coach K is not that much different than Calipari. He's going to take the players who will make Duke a great team.
Jones and Okafor are those players.
Next season, you might as well pencil in Duke as preseason No. 1, and you can write it in ink. Krzyzewski will return enough talent around them, and Okafor is on the same level as Parker, Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins.
Coach K might not like that he can't keep them around for long, but that's not going to stop him from going after the best of the best.
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