Duke basketball program rightfully claims three ‘Position U’ titles

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Numbers don’t lie, or at least that is the case for those numbers that now show a trio of Duke basketball specialties as the nation’s best.

The ESPN Stats & Information department did not disclose the exact formula, though it did mention “All-America citations, NBA draft picks, and career stats going back to the 1996-97 season” as factors. Whatever the equation, though, it got this part right: Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski has produced the NCAA’s top crop of players at three different positions across the past 24 seasons.

No wonder the Blue Devils have won three national championships during that span while never missing out on the Big Dance — except this season, but the same goes for everyone — and coming up short of the Sweet 16 in only six of those campaigns.

Per the Wednesday article announcing the results, Shane Battier, J.J. Redick, and Trajan Langdon anchored Duke’s win as “Sharpshooter U”; Mike Dunleavy, Brandon Ingram, Grayson Allen, and R.J. Barrett helped snag “Wing U” for the Blue Devils; finally, Jabari Parker, Marvin Bagley III, and Zion Williamson sealed the “Interior Scorer U” claim.

In short, there’s a reason you can’t spell DUKE without U…K?

Speaking of UK, Kentucky owns the other two crowns — “Point Guard U” and “Post Defender U” — thanks to the likes of John Wall, De’Aaron Fox, and Rajon Rondo at the one-spot and Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Karl-Anthony Towns down low.

Meanwhile, Duke finished No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, for the above “positions” in large part due to the NBA success of point guard Kyrie Irving, the college success of floor general Jason Williams, the “Landlord” paint presence of Shelden Williams, and the giant hands of Elton Brand.

Only Duke and Kentucky made the top five in each category (Kentucky ranked No. 3 for both sharpshooters and wings while sitting No. 4 for interior scorers). And since ESPN didn’t mention which one had the best average ranking, we can handle that math: the Blue Devils edged the Wildcats, 2.2 to 2.4, labeling Duke as the overall “Position U” — period.

ALSO READ: The 100 greatest Blue Devils under Coach K

Kansas landed in the top five for four positions (all but point guards). Three programs did so twice: North Carolina (point guards, interior scorers), Michigan State (point guards, wings), and Creighton (sharpshooters, wings).

The projected Duke basketball starting five for next season. light. Trending

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