As everyone already knows, Carrick Felix, Coach K’s first ever Juco transfer has decided to back out of his commitment and open up his recruitment.
I’m disappointed. While I certainly didn’t expect an All-American to emerge from Idaho, I was looking forward to seeing his athleticism off the bench this fall. He was a kid who would be in Durham for three years and we’d all get to watch him grow as a basketball player. Not anymore.
Now Felix says he’s leaving for personal reasons and Singler’s return had nothing to do with his decisions. I’d like to believe him (I have no reason not to), however, I have to believe that if Kyle went to the NBA and Felix was the only SF on the roster, he would have somehow convinced himself to stay.
Either way, I’m sure the decision was not an easy one. These kids have one shot to make it to the pros. They’re only young once. Picking the right opportunity for themselves is the most important decision they might make in their entire lives. I couldn’t imagine having to make it myself when I was that young.
The fact is, Carrick had to see an opportunity to start right away when he committed, but as soon as Kyle said no-no to the pros, Felix was on the bench. Yet, I’m going to argue that Singler’s decision was only one of two reasons that caused this reversal. The other…Michael Gbinije.
The second Gbinije picked Duke, any fan could go right ahead and pencil him in as the starter at small forward in 2011. If Felix was going to wrestle that starting spot away from the incoming freshman, he was going to need a year as a starter under his belt. As soon as Kyle came back, Felix was suddenly looking at about 8-10 minutes per game in the ACC…at best.
Anyhow, we wish him the best, where ever he ends up.
So what’s this do for Duke?
The bench certainly will take a hit. Felix was the only option at SF on the pine. Potentially, his athleticism was going to make him a defensive force. The kind of guy you throw on Harrison Barnes and dare him to score. Now Duke has two options when Singler needs a blow.
First…go small. The one thing Duke will have plenty of this season is guards. Irving, Curry, Smith and Dawkins are all capable starters, but there are only two guard spots. When Kyle needs a break, you throw three guards out there and run like the wind (until we meet again).
Second…go big. Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston are the only option off the bench to back up the Plumlee brothers. Yet, both are not traditional “big men.” Both like to play facing the basket. Kelly likes to shoot the long ball, while Hairston’s natural position (if he ever goes pro) will be at the small forward spot. Either player can come in and give Singler a break. The only issue will be, can they handle some of the quicker small forwards out there.
In reality, I would suspect that Singler simply won’t see a lot of minutes on the pine. Look for him to continue to play 33-35 minutes per game, barring injury or foul trouble.