Duke basketball’s top four candidates for national awards next season

Duke basketball (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Scouting Report. 1. Pick Analysis. Head coach. 41st season. Mike Krzyzewski. player. 434

Contender for Coach of the Year

Starting every season in the AP Poll’s top 10 isn’t exactly conducive to winning Coach of the Year. And that even applies to the game’s all-time wins leader, Mike Krzyzewski, whose past 12 Duke basketball squads were preseason top 10.  Currently, seven straight have started in the top five.

ALSO READ: Top five candidates to succeed Coach K

But in what will be his 41st season as the head of the Duke basketball household, Coach K has two conditions working in his favor when it comes to an individual honor he hasn’t held since 1999 (the NABC has crowned him twice, 1991 and 1999, while the Naismith Awards folks have done so in 1989, 1992, and 1999):

  1. Assuming Vernon Carey Jr. joins Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley on the outbound bus, Coach K may finally tip off a season just outside the top 10; after all, the Blue Devils would only return 30.3 percent of the scoring from this past season and will not welcome a single recruit inside the top 10 on the 247Sports 2020 Composite (both those facts would be significant outliers for the program).
  2. Coach K should have the opportunity to put all his creativity and learned lessons on full display with six solid scholarship freshmen, one graduate-transfer project, and four role-player returnees on tap.

Though there’s no chance the five-time national champ gives a flip about this type of trophy, he’d probably be a leading contender should Duke finish the regular season in the top five with fewer than five or so losses.

Finally, there’s no harm in setting sights high, but these next four Blue Devils are on the outside looking in next season in terms of being true threats for national hardware…