What Will Duke Look Like In First Season After Coach K?
The college hoops scene in North Carolina is going to look a lot different this upcoming season.
Not only could North Carolina sports betting apps be active, but the Duke men’s basketball team will enter its first season without legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Krzyzewski retired after this past season, leaving an immense legacy at Duke, where he had led the Blue Devils since 1980. It will be uncharted territory for most around the program, where Krzyzewski, who is considered one of the greatest coaches of all time, has been such a fixture.
So what will Duke look like in its first season after Coach K?
Familiar face now leading Blue Devils
The first thing fans will notice with Krzyzewski gone is who patrols Duke’s bench. That coach will be a familiar face, though.
The Blue Devils named assistant Jon Scheyer their new head coach almost a year before Krzyzewski coached his last game. And it was a sensible move.
Scheyer has been on Duke’s staff since 2013, learning behind Krzyzewski, making him the ideal person to step into his shoes and lead the Blue Devils. He’s also been filling his staff with assistants who could give Duke even more of a winning edge.
Of his offseason additions, Scheyer hired former Elon head coach Mike Schrage as special assistant to the head coach. Schrage was Duke’s academic and recruiting coordinator, then director of basketball operations, for nine seasons starting in 1999.
“Having learned from some of the best coaches in the game before taking on a head coaching role himself, Mike brings an unparalleled breadth of knowledge to our staff,” Scheyer said in a school release.
“I've been lucky to know and trust Mike implicitly since my playing days when he was Duke's director of basketball operations. He will have an immediate impact on our team strategy and organization. We are excited for him, his wife Amanda, and his family to return to Durham.”
Banchero will be missed
Another key figure Duke fans will miss next season is Paolo Banchero.
The freshman was an absolute stud for the Blue Devils last season, averaging 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds-per-game. He’s now on his way to the NBA Draft, where he’s predicted to be taken among the top picks.
“Banchero is probably the safest option at the top of this draft,” CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote in a recent mock draft, projecting him to go to the Orlando Magic. “He's a big, strong and skilled forward who could be the key to quickly returning the Magic to a place of relevance.”
High-caliber blue blood programs like Duke are used to replacing major talent, as they thrive on bringing in the country’s best high school talent and making use of their talents for one season before they go pro.
Replacing a player like Banchero, though, is always tough, and Scheyer will have to do his best to identify the next player to lead his team or strategize around it.
Host of talent set to join roster
Just as the Blue Devils brought Banchero in to boost the roster, the team is already doing the same with other potential stars while just barely removed from Krzyzewski.
Duke’s 2022 recruiting class is one the country’s best and ripe with talent. The Blue Devils’ commitments include four-star forward Mark Mitchell out of Kansas and five-star center Dereck Lively from Pennsylvania.
Scheyer knows recruiting is paramount to any success at Duke, and he’s not shying away from it.
“I know firsthand the expectations of the job,” Scheyer told ESPN. “Our recruiting has had a few iterations since I've been here, but the consistent thing is recruiting great players, great people. That's not going to change. You talk about a lot of things as a coach, but the best thing you can do is get the best players. Players that want to win. That's not changing for us. I believe in what we have here; I believe in the school.”
The Blue Devils earned a large amount of their success under Krzyzewski through hard-nosed recruiting, bringing in some of the nation’s best players, and for Scheyer to continue Duke’s winning tradition, he’ll have to recruit just as well, if not better, than his predecessor.
The Blue Devils’ upcoming class may be impressive, but what Scheyer does a few years after Krzyzewski’s retirement will be even more an indication of his recruiting prowess, as the legendary coach’s name will be just a memory around the program.
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