Duke Basketball: One true transfer would work wonders for Blue Devils

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Snatching an underclassman transfer who would have to sit out a year is the optimal solution for the Duke basketball program to bounce back from the news on Thursday of Boogie Ellis’ decommitment.

Mr. Past, Mr. Present, and Mr. Future talked it over and are all three in agreement: The Duke basketball coaches should immediately and publicly enter the market for a true transfer.

With a scholarship suddenly available for the 2019-20 season due to Boogie Ellis announcing on Thursday his backing out of the letter of intent he signed back in November, acquiring a transfer who must sit out next season beats out the other four options:

  1. Not using the scholarship at all
  2. Using it on a graduate transfer who can play right away
  3. Hauling in one of the remaining undecided 2019 recruits
  4. Awarding the scholarship to walk-on Mike Buckmire as a reward for his comedic performances last season while sitting next to Zion Williamson during locker-room interviews

Starting with Mr. Future’s argument for the true-transfer route…

Even with Ellis no longer part of the equation, the Blue Devils have too few minutes to go around next season as it is; after all, 11 of the 12 scholarship players on tap — assuming Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier both return after first receiving feedback this month about their NBA-readiness — are worthy of playing time.

Five of them — Tre Jones, Wendell Moore, Cassius Stanley, Matthew Hurt, and Vernon Carey Jr. — seem worthy of at least 25 minutes apiece per game.

The other six — Bolden, DeLaurier, Jack White, Alex O’Connell, Jordan Goldwire, and Joey Baker — seem worthy of at least 15 minutes apiece per game (the lone scholarship player left out, Justin Robinson, understood before arriving as a walk-on at Duke four years ago his role as a body during practices and cheerleader from the bench during games).

Do the math with the above numbers — it simply doesn’t work. Tweak the minutes a bit — it only barely works.

Besides the lack of playing time available for another player who would be eligible to take the court next season, the 2020-21 roster — which could include as few as three returning players from next season’s roster —  definitely would not benefit from either nobody or a graduate transfer with only one year of eligibility receiving the open scholarship next season.

Also, the 2020-21 roster might not benefit from the addition of another 2019 recruit who could wind up either bolting for the NBA after next season or contributing to someone transferring out of the program who may have otherwise still been in Durham come the start of the 2020-21 season.

What the 2020-21 roster would certainly benefit from, though, is the open scholarship next season going to some underclassman transfer who has already proven himself at the college level and would sit next season out while learning the Duke basketball way — by way of practicing and watching games from the bench.

Who such a transfer could be would obviously remain a mystery until the right guy was to announce he is transferring from another school, but one thing’s likely: Some fitting candidate will emerge between now and the end of the current calendar year.

Moving on to Mr. Present’s argument for the true-transfer route…

Should a suitable true-transfer candidate present himself any day now, the Blue Devils would welcome the good news that he is heading to Durham.

Within the past nine days, in addition to the bad news from Ellis, Duke fans have had to see horrifying news of UNC landing 2019 recruits, particularly Cole Anthony, who will significantly bolster its preseason ranking next season — Yuck!

During the same time period, Duke fans have had to see the disappointing news of R.J. Hampton, once a top Blue Devil target for the 2020 class, reclassifying to 2019 but cutting Duke from his list — Drats!

Furthermore, the past nine days have included news that the highest-ranked 2020 Duke target, Jalen Johnson, considers Kentucky his dream school — Ouch!

In other words, Mr. Present says he’s due to see what is always exciting good news for Duke fans: A confirmed addition to #TheBrotherhood, preferably in the form of a true transfer.

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Finally, it’s time for Mr. Past’s argument for the true-transfer route…

The past three Blue Devil squads to win a national championship all shared in common having a true transfer on the bench sitting out his one required season.

Also, three of the four transfers into the Duke basketball program since the turn of the century just so happen to be those three transfers: Dahntay Jones, who had to sit out the 2000-01 title season after transferring from Rutgers; Seth Curry, who had to sit out the 2009-10 title season after transferring from Liberty; and Sean Obi, who had to sit out the 2014-15 title season after transferring from Rice.

Apparently, having a transfer sitting out the season is a necessary omen for Blue Devils cutting down nets in April this millennium.

With that, Mr. Past rests his case for a true transfer to be in Durham next season.

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