Over the course of Coach K's career, he has seen college basketball change drastically. Through it all, he has managed to keep Duke as one of the best teams in the country. Most recently, he has witnessed a dramatic change in recruiting. In order to be a top team, he has changed his philosophy to adjust to a new era. Some have criticized Coach K's change in recruiting strategy but he has adjusted to the game and continues to coach top rated teams. This ability to adjust has been the catalyst for his continued success throughout the years.
As the one-and-done era has grown, Coach K has been able to integrate these successful players into his program. Freshmen are beginning to enter college more ready for college basketball than ever before and having talented freshmen is becoming a necessity. Since his National Championship in 2010 where he started three seniors and two juniors, he has been able to integrate these freshmen into his program. Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers and Jabari Parker are not typical Coach K recruits, but they have been extremely beneficial to the success of Duke basketball. Coach K has realized the importance of these players and has begun to bring them into Duke more than before.
Coach K has brought in more one-and-done talents but he has surrounded them with four year players as well. Parker was brought in with Matt Jones and Semi Ojeleye. Austin Rivers was brought in with Quinn Cook, Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee. Irving was brought in with Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston. This mix of one-and-done talent along with four year players has allowed Coach K to have talented teams while keeping a similar identity year to year. Very few coaches have been able to integrate both types of top recruits as Coach K and it is a big reason for Duke's success.
Coach K has also adapted to an influx of transferring in college basketball. He is not known for accepting transfers to Duke but has experienced success in recent year with transfers Seth Curry and Rodney Hood. He even attempted to bring graduate transfer Tarik Black to sure up Duke's front line this season. This was not something Coach K has been known for but he has been able to integrate it into Duke to better the program.
Coach K is also extremely successful at adjusting his strategy from team to team. Last season, he coached a mature team through the post skill of Mason Plumlee. This season, he has changed Duke's style to much more uptempo. His best players changed from post players and shooters to athletic drivers. He did not recruit exclusively for players that would only fit in a certain situation. He was able to bring in a great group of talent, then change his strategy to find the best way they could win. With players moving quickly through college, this has become necessary for college coaches. Coach K has been able to do it successfully and keep Duke winning, regardless of the style.
Some people have criticized Coach K for his recent recruiting class, claiming he is beginning to recruit like Calipari. Even if Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow all become one-and-done players (which appears unlikely) he also brought in Grayson Allen. He has continued to bring in recruiting classes that have a mix of talent and that fit his system. He has begun recruiting one-and-done talent, but to his advantage. Coach K has adapted to a new age in college basketball and that is why he will go down as one of the best coaches in college basketball history.