As Duke fans, we all want to see similar things. We want a championship and to see the players go on and be successful, whether that is in the NBA or overseas in places like Spain (Kyle Singler) or even Israel (Jon Scheyer). Here is the breakdown on each Duke player and their chances on making it professionally:
Quinn Cook: He definitely has made strides since his freshmen season. He was very inconsistent that year as he was battling a chronic knee injury that had kept him limited and even made him miss a game. He never seemed to get into a groove that year and the lack of a true point guard hurt the Blue Devils that year as they were bumped in their first NCAA tournament matchup with Lehigh. Sophomore year, last season was Cook’s year. Everything seemed to go right for him, his jumper fell, he drove into the paint well, played decent-good defense, and was the necessary floor general. He broke out and is expected to be even better this season. He has evidently gotten stronger and his man-man defense has improved early on in the team’s first few practices.
NBA: Late first round-early second round pick, stays all four seasons. He has shown enough already to be drafted and can really help his stock with another good year.
Rodney Hood: We have heard so much about this young man that I don’t even want to talk about his future in the league, I just want to see him play for Duke. Anyway, Rodney has shown in practice that he is an outstanding basketball player. In his freshman season at Mississippi State, he excelled and felt the competition wasn’t tough enough for him, so he transferred to Duke where he had to sit out. As a redshirt sophomore, he was named co-captain with Tyler Thornton. Hood has shown that he can play defense and even Kyrie Irving has said that he believes he is a future pro.
NBA: Lottery-mid first round pick. There is no way that Hood drops out of the first 17 picks of the 2014 draft. I do feel that if he plays well this season, or even shows signs of what he can do, he will depart for the NBA. His skillset is unlike many others, so he will definitely be an NBA player..
Josh Hairston: Hairston has never truly become a consistent player who plays constant minutes. He has played occasionally here and there, but has never showed any dominating characteristics or statistics that separate him from anyone else. His jumper hasn’t always been consistent, but his energy level and defense are always there.
NBA: Undrafted-possible overseas. Hairston hasn’t shown enough to make it professionally, but you never know, he may find his niche in Europe.
Matt Jones: As a freshmen, it is tough to make the decision about the future of a young player (obviously with the exceptions of guys like Parker) because they haven’t played yet. Jones has a great instinct on the floor, he can play some 1 but is mainly an off guard. He can shoot the lights out and in a previous article I wrote, he has drawn comparisons to Ray Allen. He also seems to be a crafty player when he drives, using a variety of moves to get the rack or even to pull-up off the dribble.
NBA: Too early to say, but early second round pick. He has the jumper to make it into the league, especially if he can be consistent and combine his jumper with a slasher mentality.
Marshall Plumlee: MP3 is an interesting topic mainly because I have no clue what to grade him. He hasn’t played much due to injuries and a redshirt his freshmen season. He had seemed at points last year to have been lost on the court or even too small strength wise to keep up with the others. Now, he has gained around 35 pounds and looks to be someone who Duke will rely on in the post. Along with Murphy, I feel it is too early to judge Plumlee on his basketball future, but with his comedy background on DukeBluePlanet, he has opened other field for himself.
NBA: TBD, but I could see him as an analyst who uses his basketball knowledge and experience along with his comedy (think another former Blue Devil, Jay Bilas)
Amile Jefferson: Amile is another person who I am on the fence about. He showed signs last year that he absolutely belongs. He seems to grab rebounds constantly, outworking everyone, doing the little things like actually doing that boxing-out thing they teach, and using his incredible length to help out. He did seem to get pushed around a little in the post, but you expect that with a freshmen who doesn’t have a full season under his belt. Now that he does, he gain around 20-25 pounds himself to bulk up for the season and try to maintain his presence in the post with a very small Duke team.
NBA: This probably the toughest one yet, but I can see him as a late second round pick as of now with a future overseas if he chooses. I am not fully sold on him having an NBA career though. If he improves and shows he can put up impressive numbers, his stock will go up.
Semi Ojeleye: Semi, we already know is a freak athlete. His vertical leap is absurd and he is built like he should be playing linebacker for the Chicago Bears (no favorite team, just randomly popped into my mind). Based off early practices, Semi has shown that he definitely belongs and can play at this level. He knocks down threes, uses his height and strength to back down defenders in the post, and has a decent pull-up game. Of course, he hasn’t played a minute of college basketball yet so making an educated guess on draft stock and placement becomes a bit harder.
NBA: Nonetheless, based off of his progression in high school, turning into a scorer who averaged about 38 points his senior year, Ojeleye definitely has the body and skill to play at the NBA level. Where? That is tough to predict because we don’t know his role on this season’s team or even how much he will play. If not, as has been the theme, he has the ability to play overseas and make a professional career there.
Todd Zafirovski: Although a fan favorite, it is very unlikely that Todd makes it to the pros or overseas. He has played limited time as a walk-on senior who is currently in grad school, although he does have a couple career buckets in blow out wins.
NBA: No, but he has a Duke degree so I believe he will be okay.
Nick Pagliuca: Pagliuca does have family ties to the Blue Devils as his brother Joe was also a walk-on. Almost his entire family went to Duke (father, brother, and sister) and now he is on the team as a freshman walk-on. We have not yet seen or heard of what Pagliuca can do on the court.
NBA: No, but if he stays all four years (which most walk-ons do), he will have graduated from Duke University. I am not too worried about his future.