Cassius Stanley and Grant Hill
Yeah, Cassius, I and those Duke basketball fans everywhere I mentioned would love for your jersey number to signify a second season in the Duke basketball program. If Cassius Stanley does return to run it back in 2020-21, the Devils become significantly more dangerous.
It would be like when Grant Hill returned for his senior year and came within a Scottie Thurman game-clincher of unmatched Duke basketball immortality. I hate some of these re-airs, at least the Duke losses anyway, and feel they should be immediately destroyed for the good of our nation.
Though Hill didn’t get a third title, he still did pretty well for himself and Duke basketball fans alike. Grant joined a veteran team and turned out to be the final piece as an athletic, multi-faceted wing that Duke needed to match up with an undefeated UNLV squad of seniors who had beaten the same Devil team by 30 the year before. This is the one re-air I would love to see and hope they are playing it on Final Four weekend due to its significance in basketball, and not just Duke basketball, history.
His dunk against Kansas is one of the all-time highlights from the NCAA Tournament and marked the seminal moment in the story of Duke basketball when the program shed the stigma of not being able to win the big one on the way to back-to-back titles.
Cassius will definitely not reach those heights of accomplishment, although we could all envision him reaching that famous G Hill alley-oop and throwing down one of his patented one-handed tomahawks.
Their freshman seasons were remarkably similar, although Hill upped Stanley by just a bit in everything except scoring average, 12.6 to 11.2, and FT percentage. Since Grant Hill is a Hall of Fame player, any comparisons are good ones. They both played with supreme athleticism and a calm, collected smoothness that belied the fact they hadn’t played major college hoops, much less the rigorous schedules that Duke basketball usually contends with.
Both were efficient scorers and shooters, and while we don’t think of Stanley as a 3-point bomber, his 86 attempts dwarf the two that Hill took his first year. The game has definitely changed. Hill was a better passer, defender, and playmaker; but again, we are talking about the best Duke basketball player ever in my opinion.
If Stanley does come back next year, he will look to take on the role that Hill did his last two seasons as an unquestioned leader and star of the Duke basketball program. Like Hill, he will need to be more aggressive and in attack mode more often. His ability to hang, gather, and make difficult shots was a bit underutilized since he shot 73 percent from the stripe but only got there 3.6 times a game.
I feel Stanley would be able to showcase himself as the go-to guy next year and become the consistent star that he showed in many flashes. The weak draft class and his age are large factors pushing him to the NBA, but the possible cancellation of a draft combine would hurt him since he couldn’t wow teams in person with his exceptional athleticism.
Either way, expect the speculation to mount, and though he is not a projected lottery pick as of now, he could be if he stays in the Duke basketball program and dominates next year like it’s expected he would. It worked for Grant Hill. It could work for Cassius Stanley too.
On to the last and most blasphemous comparison that I could possibly make…