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Likely top pick Kyrie Irving makes it official, enters draft

Apr 6, 2011, 6:10 PM EDT


Kryie Irving is leaving Duke after his freshman year to enter the NBA draft. It’s official.

This wasn’t really a surprise to anyone except delusional, hard-core Duke fans who refuse to believe anyone is going to leave their heaven-on-earth campus, but reality intrudes once again.

Irving likely will be the top overall pick. Start trying to picture him in the wine and gold of Cleveland now. (Although if Minnesota gets the top pick they can add him to Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn in a couple years for a four PG and Kevin Love lineup.) Follow this link to the official Duke statement, I’m not going to put those dull quotes here.

Irving only played 11 games this past season for Duke due to a foot injury, but recovered in time for the NCAA Tournament, stepped in a looked good. (Duke didn’t lost because of him, they lost because of team defense.)

Irving is maybe the one franchise-changing guy in this draft. He is a very good all-around point guard — he can shoot (46 percent from three), pass, he’s quick, he understands the game. He plays a position that has become more important in the NBA.

He’s going to be good. The only questions have been will he be Derrick Rose/John Wall good, or is he a step below them? (Note, we mean what Wall can grow into in a couple years, not what he was as a rookie, which still was pretty good.) Scouts are divided. However, in this draft, where there are no other franchise guys, it’s a risk a team will take.

Since we’re talking draft we’ll throw in another Tobacco Road note: junior Tyler Zeller and sophomore John Henson are returning to North Carolina for another year. Harrison Barnes, the one from that team who would be drafted highest, has het to make up his mind.

  1. zblott - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    The very first use of scouting reports that compared Irving’s game to Chris Paul’s (back in early August):

  2. purdueman - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    No biggie; the Dukie Pukie’s will simply go out and cherry pick his replacement off of the Mc Donald’s top 25 hi skool prospects before it gets released, and then his name will be back filled at the back end of the list.

    This is exactly what’s wrong with collegiate basketball; the skids are greased for only a small handful of “name” coaches to “recruit” whoever they want before the field is open to all, and then their schools provide a “greased” curriculum in order to get the “one and done-ers” eligible for the first two semesters, then then they simply drop out and party after the NCAA tournament is over while they wait for the NBA draft where they will become instant millionaires.

    What a crooked system and what a mockery these colleges make of their “academics” by getting away with giving these “student athletes” a free ride and a “greased” curriculum!

  3. purdueman - Apr 6, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    There’s a reason why Jalen Rose referred to Grant Hill and the other “Uncle Toms” going to play for Duke… it’s because Rose is spot on in that the “NCAA collegiate basketball recruiting system” is totally crooked.

    Why do you think that only a small number of head coaches that you can count on one hand ALWAYS get the top rated recruits? It’s because most of them have no intention of becoming “student athletes” and know that the additional exposure that they will get from one of these schools will likely raise their NBA draft status.

    The only way to fix the system is for the NCAA to start reducing “full” scholarships immediately for mens basketball. The coaches who SHOULD be admired are guys like the two who coach Butler and Va Commonwealth, because they keep their kids in school and mold them into teams, not the guys who simply are lucky enough to have the best talent.

    • fanoredsox - Apr 7, 2011 at 3:22 PM

      I hope people realize that playing for Duke is typically a curse if you are going to the NBA. It’s the equivalent of receiving the Heisman. The reason that Duke did not recruit Rose is that he couldn’t get in to the school academically and they had Grant Hill. Seriously, who would you want more Hill or Rose? Both were good players, but if you had to choose one, you would take Hill. Rose would never have been satisfied as a backup and was a great payer that also garnered respect and a starting position. However if any school would have had both it would have one hell of a setup.

      • purdueman - Apr 7, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        fano… excellent points, but I don’t think Rose laments that he wasn’t apparently recruited by Duke so much as there’s a backlash between black basketball players who work their way up from the streets vs. those who are lucky enough to be born into prosperous families that can afford to prepare the adequately academically for college.

        Then when the more affluent black athlete takes the easy road by signing up with Duke, it’s like rubbing salt into the wound.

        Excellent point too as to how so many former Dukie Pukies go on to struggle, become merely guys off the bench or completely wash out in the NBA. Good comparison… playing basketball for Duke or winning the Heisman! (LOL!).

        I hate though how Coach K., Patino and Calapari in particular get put on a pedestal (which in turn makes recruiting easy), simply for winning with a steady input of top hi skool talent. Gee… what a surprise! I’m FAR more impressed by the “lunch bucket” head coaches like Butler, VA Commenwealth and yes, Painter at Purdue have been able to achieve without any Mc Donald’s top 50 All Americans on their rosters.

        What really upsets me about the “one and done-ers” though is that they only need to carry a C average with 12 units of general ed cupcake courses in order to be eligible to play all the way through the NCAA tourney, then many of them simply drop out. It’s a total sham!

      • fanoredsox - Apr 7, 2011 at 4:20 PM

        I do agree with you Purdue that I do like and respect the coaches from both Butler and VCU. I like the coach from Butler a little more than Shaka Smart because he is building something (let us both pray that he is not the second coming of Billy Donovan) at Butler that will bolster his recruiting class year in and year out. If you are good coach and mentor then you absolutely get to hand pick your team and that comes from running a clean and reputable program. Whether people recognize it or not, 20 some years ago coach K was that same new coach that was taking teams to the final four as a newcomer and building a program. I truly believe that Butler’s coach is the real deal. Time will tell us more about Shaka Smart. I believe his team overachieved. There has to be a reason that all of these former NBA players are sending their kids to Duke. The first answer is obvious, they will get a ton of national exposure. The second, I believe is the way that coach K instills good ethics and morals and these former players want the same thing for their children as we do and that is that become good individuals. No one ever knocks John Wooden for the type of program that he ran and by today’s standards he would have been the biggest violator of rules that we have seen. They revere him for winning and he pretty much got any player he wanted. All Wooden had to do was just show up and the kid signed on.

  4. sedna1 - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    I think most “delusional, hard-core Duke fans” like myself fully expected Kyrie to go pro now. I would if I were in his shoes. As for this greased curriculum BS, there are no easy courses at Duke. Take it from me, I’m an alum and I couldn’t find any :) The top HS players choose Duke or any of the most successful programs because … surprise … they’re successful! They know they will play with other top players and learn from one of the best coaches. Fortunately for Kyrie (or perhaps to his credit), he selected a school that’s affiliated with some of the best doctors and medical facilities in the world. I can assure you Coach K made sure Kyrie received the best medical care Duke had to offer.

    Duke recruits the best basketball players in the country who have good character and have demonstrated they are equipped to thrive academically. It’s as simple as that. If, as in Kyrie’s case, a kid’s best interests are clearly served by attending college for only one year and then heading to the NBA, why wouldn’t he want to spend that year at a school where he learns from the best in both basketball and academics? And why shouldn’t Duke and Coach K give him that opportunity, particularly if he’s worked his butt off to earn it?

    I think the worst thing about all of this Duke bashing is that invariably there will be some kid who will forgo an opportunity for a free ride at Duke because of it, and that is sad. The cynics will laugh and say, “yeah, bad for Coach K, Duke and the Dookies.” No, someone else will just take his place.

    • purdueman - Apr 7, 2011 at 9:14 PM

      No question that Coach K. earned punching his eventual ticket to the hall of fame. The real issue that I have though has come about due to the “one and done-er”. Coach K. doesn’t have to recruit anymore… he just needs to extend scholarship offers because, as you so correctly point out, the national exposure these kids get from now going to Duke or Kentucky raises the value in the NBA draft, as they benefit from the exposure, the reputation of the coaches (emphasis on “reputation” which as you also correctly infer came from the days PRIOR to the “one and done” craze), and looking like better players because they have better players around them.

      While that’s very compelling I’m sure for any kid to take advantage of, it doesn’t make it right, nor does it provide for a level playing field either.

      Va Commonwealth was a one shot flash in the pan this year. They aren’t so much well coached as they feed off of their young coaches unbridled energy level and ability in getting them to believe in themselves. What’s impressive though is that he’s been able to do more with a lot less, keep his kids in school and mold them into a team.

      Butler’s coach though can flat out coach, as can Painter at Purdue. Both of these Indiana schools are at a considerable disadvantage recruiting wise because of where they are located in the country; that makes it even more impressive that they’ve had the success that they already have had.

      I agree that when Coach K. eventually retires he’ll be extremely hard to replace, but as North Carolina found out, with a little bit of patience you can eventually replace a legend (as Roy Williams has done following iconic Coach Dean Smith).

      The inside buzz out here in LA is that the reason Wooden stepped down when he did (while he still was a fairly young man by coaching standards), indeed was because of the NCAA starting to implement tough new rules and monitoring systems. I know of one specific instance where a player was given a condo near the Westwood campus by rich alumni to commit to UCLA, something that would never be gotten away with today.

    • fanoredsox - Apr 7, 2011 at 9:15 PM

      Nicely put! I just hate it when someone wants to Bash Coach K because he’s successful and typically does not recruit one and done’s ! If I’m right, the only one and done’s that he has had were Irving and Corey Maggette.

      • purdueman - Apr 7, 2011 at 9:24 PM

        fanor… I’m not bashing Coach K., nor do I hate Duke. I’m bashing a very broken system that allows a small handful of collegiate coaches (Coach K, Calipari, Self., etc), to simply cherry pick off the top hi skool players in the country year in and year out knowing that they’ll likely be “one and done-ers”.

        Ok, so Duke might have more “two and done-ers”, but that’s not the same thing as recruiting true “student athletes”. The system is broken; the best way to fix it is to begin by stripping one full basketball scholarship from ALL NCAA Division I programs.

        That way if a premier player truly wants to attend Duke because they are student athletes first, he can take a graduated scholarship the way most schools provide for lesser sports (like swimming and diving).

        The way that works is you only get a 40% free ride year 1, a 60% free ride your second year IF you stay on the team, an 80% free ride your third year IF you stay on the team, and then 100% free ride with full retroactive credit back to 100% for all four years IF you’re still on the team your senior year.

      • fanoredsox - Apr 7, 2011 at 10:18 PM

        I think that is a great idea! Personally I think that would completely render all of the current scholarship issues as moot. The only issue that I have is when someone classifies “K” in the same breath or sentence as Calipari or Self. Calipari has had two final fours vacated because he can’t adhere to NCAA rules. All schools and coaches use the greased upped system but “k” has never been implicated in one investigation that I know of. Bob Knight (on the topic of Calipari) said that this guy should have been kicked out of the system long ago because of his blatant disregard for rules and the fact that he leaves every school he has ever coached for in disarray. I promise you that there is a reason that he wants to jump to the NBA. I bet the hounds are nipping at his heels.

  5. purdueman - Apr 7, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    sedna… “Duke doesn’t have to recruit one and done-ers”; true, but neither do Calipari or Self either, but they do!

    Exactly how long was Kyrie Irving’s long and glorious career at Duke? 10 games? or was it a whole whopping 11 games? Nahhh… that’s not a one and done-er, much less a guy who’s only objective in going to Duke was to raise his NBA draft status!

    I’m pretty sure that Lual Deng was another Duke “one and done-er” too. We’re not talking about how many Dukies declared for the NBA draft way back in the day when Coach K’s hair hadn’t turned mostly gray you know.

    • fanoredsox - Apr 7, 2011 at 10:21 PM

      I forgot about Deng. I promise you that if you look at Duke’s history you ill see less one and dones than probably most schools in the country. I personally just think that K represents what you send you kids to college for. Hopefully a full education, but most importantly how to conduct yourself as a human being.

      • purdueman - Apr 7, 2011 at 10:37 PM

        fanor… please… ease up Dude! I’m NOT knocking Duke OR Coach K. Coach K. has been the gold standard of coaches in collegiate basketball all the way around for years now. He’s a true stand up guy who I think would be the first to blow the whistle on his own program if he even thought that something was an NCAA violation.

        I’m knocking the current SYSTEM,, that allows too few schools to cherry pick off the top hi skool talent in the country and not have to pay any price when so many of these kids become “one and done-ers”.

        The NCAA is trying to address this though by penalizing schools when this happens, but there’s still a big split among Universities that are “clean” vs. those (most notably like Kentucky), who openly abuse the system. If Miles Brand (who was VERY ANTI-collegiate athletics), were still alive and running the NCAA, the proposed penalties (imperfect as they may be), would have already been implemented.

  6. sedna1 - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    purdueman, I believe you’re trying to fix the least important of the problems (schools “cherry picking”). The real problem is how to “fix” the System without hurting the top HS players. Who are we to tell these kids they should put academics ahead of a multi-million $ contract in the pros? Why should rules be put in place to “encourage” these elite players to do what’s not in their best interests? For example, the graduated scholarship you describe would discriminate against those kids who can’t afford to pay 60% (or whatever) their freshman year. (Or do I not understand your idea?)

    Because academics do indeed matter at Duke, even for the student who will likely be attending just one year, it is at a distinct disadvantage when recruiting the top basketball and football talent. Only the “real” student athlete is going to choose to go to Duke. Obviously there are going to be kids who would rather just concentrate on preparing for the pros and not have to worry too much about studying. And there are schools that will accommodate them, but I assure you Duke is not on that list. But that’s these kids’ choice, and there’s only so much the NCAA and NBA can or should do to try to change their minds. Each is a young adult with his own unique personal circumstances who has a right to do what he thinks is best for him. “We” have no right to establish rules and regulations that effectively force them to do what we think is best.

    As far as the “only a few schools get to cherry pick” problem. I don’t think there are any simple solutions that don’t introduce even worse problems. I don’t have an answer. I’m not even sure there is one. However, while it seems it’s always the same schools that get their pick of the top talent, the names do change over the years. I’m old enough to remember Duke before Coach K, when I was there in the early Bill Foster years. We were always either at the bottom or, in a good year, the middle of the ACC, and UNC and NC State were the teams to beat. I know our days are numbered (depending on when Coach K retires 😉 ), so I’m enjoying this while it lasts.

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