2010′s Incoming freshman have yet to step on campus, but that hasn’t stopped the Duke coaching staff from charging full-steam ahead into 2011′s class and that certainly hasn’t stop us Duke fans from speculating about the future. You’d think we’d sit back and enjoy the championship for a little while. Nah.
So far, the Blue Devils have gotten verbal with two kids, Michael Gbinije and Tyler Adams. Who are they and what can you, the loyal Duke fan, expect?
MICHAEL GBINIJE (SG/SF)
Mr. Gbinije, pronounced Ga-bin-gee, I think (I was way off, it’s pronounced ben-uhh-jay) is a 6’6 wing man, rated the 4th best SF (according to Rivals). The only word that should come to mind when you’re talking about Gbinije is STUD. The kid can shoot from the outside or take it to the hole like a point guard. He’s just that talented. In fact, despite standing 6’6, he often plays the primary ball handler in high school.
While I wouldn’t call him a “freak” of an athlete (like I would Gerald Henderson), Gbinije is plenty athletic and can create his own shot without the need for a screen. Most importantly, he’s already working on his mid-range game (a crucial shot most incoming freshmen lack). Also, the kid is not afraid to get dirty inside and has a knack for grabbing defensive rebounds where he can push the fast break without breaking a sweat.
Conclusion? Be excited. Be really excited. The kid can ball, but what role will he play in 2011?
With his height, you’d love to see him at the two-guard, where he could abuse smaller shooting guards, but with Singler out after 2010, I suspect Gbinije has the goods to slide into Kyle’s spot at small forward (with Felix remaining the No 1 option off the bench).
Here’s what I’m thinking…the Brother Plumlees will continue to hold up the middle. If Irving is as good as advertised, he will probably be a one-and-done (although I’m certainly hoping he sticks around). This will allow Curry to take over the point, while Dawkins takes over SG, unless…Doc Rivers’ kid decides to head to Cameron, then I have no clue.
TYLER ADAMS (CENTER)
Mr. Adams is a bit of a mystery for a lot of Duke fans since the coaching staff hasn’t really been chasing after him that long. In fact, he was never on Duke’s radar until assistant coach Nate James put him on it. So what do we know about Adams?
He’s big. Standing 6’9, weighing about 255 pounds. If those dimensions sound familiar, they should…that’s Elton Brand’s exact built now. While the thought of the next Elton Brand just got your nuts tingling, hold on just for a moment…Adams isn’t Brand.
First the good news. What the duo has in common is an ability to get mean inside. To put it mildly, no one will be pushing Adams out from under the basket. He could turn into a rebound machine and if you were paying attention at all this past season, you know and I know it’s nice to have a guy who owns the glass inside.
Adams also has soft hands like Brand, meaning the kid can catch a ball. Do not underestimate how important this is. You could be the most athletic and talented big man in the nation, but if you got bricks for hands, you’re not going very far.
Having said that, Adams at this point is not the scorer Brand was. Elton came into college with a polished offensive game, able to score either facing the basket or with his back to the basket. Adams can muscle his way to 16ppg in high school, but inside the ACC, he’s going to need to develop some moves.
Luckily he’s only a junior in high school and there is still plenty of time to get his offensive game worked out. Also, rumor has it the kid hasn’t even sniffed a weight room. Just imagine how good he could be if he could turn his 255-pound frame into muscle? In fact, he would remind me of a slightly taller DeJaun Blair (formally of Pittsburgh, current San Antonio Spurs).
So the question is, what role will Adams play in 2011?
Knowing what I know now, I’d say he has a limited role in 2011. Like I mentioned earlier, the Blue Devils will probably roll with three guards, which means that Mason and Miles have a hold on the paint. Josh Hairston will still be getting the bulk of the minutes off the bench, while Ryan Kelly continues to get 10-15 per.
Why do I keep using words like “still” and “continues?” That’s because this will be the exact same front court rotation in 2010, so this foursome will have plenty of experience under their belts.
Also we shouldn’t forget, the coaching staff is still chasing some big name big men. If the staff can land a star…I’m looking at you Quincy Miller, then that shakes up everything.
So basically, I wouldn’t expect too much from Adams in year one. While he’ll get some minutes early in the season, Adams is a long-term project. By his sophomore year, he should be competing for solid minutes off the bench and (depending on future recruits) by his junior year, he can then compete for a starting spot.
WHO ELSE IN 2011
Austin Rivers, SG - He’s the big name that all Duke fans are craving. Nail him and Duke again will be national contender in 2011.
Quincy Miller, PF – The No 2 rated power forward still has a ton of schools on his list.In reality, he’s probably one-and-done.
Marshall Plumlee, PF - Rumor has it, Duke is losing interest. Don’t buy it. if Miller heads elsewhere, a Plumlee trio would be one hell of a front court.
Quinn Cook, PG - He’s the sixth rated PG and he has Duke, North Carolina and Maryland all chasing him. Of course if Irving comes back for a second year, don’t look for Duke to bring in another point guard.
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