"Duke's Freshman Class Is Superior"
By BLOOMBERG NEWS
DURHAM, N.C., Oct. 6 Duke, the defending national champion, has
recruited a freshman class that rivals Michigan's Fab Five of 1991 as
the best in college basketball history, some experts said.
The Blue Devils received a verbal commitment from the 6-foot-10-inch
forward Shavlik Randolph last Wednesday, giving them six of the
highest-rated United States high school stars. Their five scholarship
recruits are ranked in the top 30 by most national recruiting services.
"In the 30-plus years I've been following basketball and evaluating high
school talent, this is the best recruiting class I've observed," said
Bob Gibbons, publisher of the "All Star Report" on college recruiting.
Gibbons called Michigan's 1991 class of Chris Webber, Juwan Howard,
Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson "the best I'd seen until this
In addition to Randolph, who averaged 27 points and 13 rebounds last
season at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C., Duke has received a
commitment from Shelden Williams, a 6-9, 245-pounder from Midwest City,
Okla., who is a consensus top-5 recruit.
The Blue Devils will also add center Michael Thompson from New Lenox,
Ill., and guards J. J. Reddick from Roanoke, Va., and Sean Dockery from
Because of an N.C.A.A. rule that permits only five scholarships a year,
Lee Melchionni, a 6-6 forward from Lancaster, Pa., will pay his way to
Duke as a freshman and receive a scholarship next year. Melchionni's
father, Gary, played for Duke in the early 1970's.
"The truly amazing part is that Duke landed all six of its targets this
year," said Dave Telep of TheInsidersHoops.com, a Web site that follows
recruiting. "That's not recruiting, that's selecting. I call these guys
the Selected Six."
Telep and other recruiting experts said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski and
his staff wanted high school players who would not consider jumping
directly to the N.B.A. Five of the top 10 high school players in last
year's TheInsidersHoops.com ranking entered the N.B.A. draft.
Duke beat out the University of North Carolina to get Randolph, the most
sought prep star in the state since David Thompson in 1971. Thompson,
who went to North Carolina State, was even more highly recruited than
Michael Jordan, who tried to persuade Randolph to attend North Carolina
by posing for a picture with him while wearing a "Shav Country" T-shirt.
"I had a chance to play in some pickup games with J. J. Reddick and Sean
Dockery, and we had real good chemistry," Randolph said during a news
conference at his high school to announce his college choice. "A lot
depends on who you play with, and I think we have a chance to have a
really special team."
Van Coleman, the executive director of the recruiting service Future
Stars, said Michigan's 1991 class was still the best, though not by
"The thing that might give Michigan the advantage is that Webber and
Rose were utterly *** players coming out of high school," Coleman
said. "Webber was the No. 1 player in the country by far. But there's no
question that Duke has one of the top classes in history."
This is not the first time Duke has had major success in recruiting.
The Blue Devils' 1982 class featured Mark Alarie, Johnny Dawkins, Jay
Bilas and David Henderson. As seniors, they led Duke to 37 victories in
1985-86 and reached the N.C.A.A. championship game, which they lost to
The 1997 class included Elton Brand, Shane Battier, William Avery and
Chris Burgess. In 1998-99, they helped the Blue Devils win 37 games and
reach the title game, which they lost to Connecticut.
After that season, Brand and Avery became the first players in Duke
history to enter the N.B.A. draft as underclassmen, while Burgess
transferred to the University of Utah. Battier was the only one to stay
all four years, leaving last season after leading Duke to the national
championship and winning consensus player of the year honors.
The 1999 class of Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer, Casey Sanders and Mike
Dunleavy was also highly regarded and played a key role in last year's
Williams, Boozer, Dunleavy and the sophomore Chris Duhon return this
season, and will be joined by Dahntay Jones, a transfer from Rutgers,
who could make the starting lineup. That means that this year's freshman
class may not have the immediate impact that the Fab Five did at
Michigan, where they led the Wolverines to the N.C.A.A. championship
game as freshmen and sophomores.
"A hero would die for his country, but he'd much rather
live for it." ~~ THE WEST WING (NBC, 10/03/01)