The James Tier System


March 2, 2013; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski on the sidelines against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

The sheer amount of effort that went into this concept was quite impressive for someone on a simple message board. A person I knew simply as “James” built a tier system to identify recruiting needs and roster flexibility over the future years. The version I developed over the following column is not as in-depth as the board where James penned the first version has since been lost to vast black hole of the internet.

The table below illustrates the depth Duke possess over the coming years.

YearPGSGSFPFCBench GBench FBench C
2014CookSulaimonHoodParkerJeffersonM. Jones, Dawkins, ThorntonMurphy, OjeleyeHairston, Plumlee
2015Cook(T. Jones)MurphyJefferson(Okafor)M. Jones, Allen, (open)Ojeleye, (Open), (Open)Plumlee
2016(Open)M. JonesMurphyJeffersonPlumleeAllen, (Open), (Open)Ojeleye, (Open), (Open)(Open)
2017(Open)M. JonesOjeleye(Open)(Open)(Open)(Open)(Open)

What stands out, rather starkly, is how paper thin the Blue Devils get after the 2015 season. In yellow, you see some of the open positions Coach K and the staff will be pushing to fill during the next few recruiting cycles. Sure, targets like Harry Giles, Diamond Stone, Ivan Rabb could fill those positions but, truthfully, we’re a ways away from knowing what will happen with the 2014 class, much less beyond.

In red, you see I’ve listed Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor. I feel confident enough that they will end up at Duke to list them here, albeit with a red marker. This is simply to show a probable listing for the future.

The future of the point guard position is somewhat questionable. I happen to believe by the time Quinn Cook graduates, he’ll be known as one of the greatest lead guards to ever play at Duke. That said, who will be the heir to the hardwood throne? As of this moment, Duke isn’t pushing hard on any more point guards in 2014 other than Tyus Jones. While Jones is fantastic, the fact that he’s likely to be a one-and-done means Duke will have a gaping hole at the position. Duke would probably be better served with a 2-4 year point guard in this class than Jones.

See, Duke has four wings already locked into the team for the 2015 season and yet, they will have to relent 30 mins per game to Jones as K will look at a lineup similar to the Duhon-Williams years. This leads me to believe Duke will look to take on a “lower ranked” point in either the 2014 or 2015 class. Of course, all of this is rubbish if Jones is a multi-year guy.

As one would expect, Duke is set on the wing for the next five years. A variety of very highly touted prospects enters the fray, portioned out in a nice manner. Despite the one year of Tyus Jones likely starting at the two, Duke will go 6’5” and 6’8” on the wing for the foreseeable future with Matt Jones and Grayson Allen locking down the (literal) shooting guard spot and Alex Murphy and Semi Ojeleye commanding the other wing spot. No one knows who will take this spot from Hood, assuming the Mississippian leaves for the 2014 NBA Draft.

Duke will chase Malik Newman (the top SG in the 2015 class) and perhaps, to a lesser extent, King McClure. (BTW, James, if you’re out there reading this, I know on name alone he’s your favorite prospect.) Newman could be an option at the point guard slot if the staff thinks they can convert the outstanding scorer. He possesses a deft feel for the ball and is quick enough to facilitate in the lane after turning around ball screens. If the staff doesn’t see that as an option, although I see no reason to recruit him as a SG with upperclassmen ahead of him when he comes in, then they will have to pursue a legitimate lead guard option.

The front court options are a middle ground to the back court positions. With Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson in line to roam the blocks for the next three seasons (plus a possible Jahlil Okafor layover), Duke has its starters all but locked in until 2017. Aside from Okafor, Duke is kicking the tires on Goodluck Okonoboh, Kevon Looney, and Myles Turner in the 2014 class. Of the three, I’d rate Looney as the most likely to be a Blue Devil as I hear it will be between Duke and Michigan for his services. Okonoboh would be my next bet but I’m much less certain on him. Turner would be an excellent addition but he doesn’t fit the tier system. Okonoboh and Looney are likely to be at least two year guys where as Turner will be a valuable commodity in the Okafor draft and will be the second center off the board.

Duke doesn’t need two one-and-done centers in the same class (although there is something to be said for reversing the stigma in one fell swoop). This is why the staff is targeting Ben Simmons, Diamond Stone, and Elijah Thomas in the following class. Simmons and Stone are likely one-and-dones as well, though. Thomas looks like a two year guy to me, however, this far out, no one can be certain. Kyrie Irving was considered a four-year player at this same point in high school.

So, how does this breakdown for each class? Well, here is what I expect:

2014: Allen, Okafor, Jones, (2 year Wing), (4 year Wing)

2015: Newman, (4 year point guard), Simmons, (4 year post)