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Amile Jefferson’s Decision Could Brighten Duke Fan’s Expectations

This is the last column I will write about Amile Jefferson:  I promise.

After Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. the last remaining Duke target in the recruiting class of 2012 will either be a Blue Devil or he won’t. If you have read any of my previous columns my expectations and hopes for Jefferson coming to Duke aren’t real high. I don’t necessarily have a reason other than my gut just tells me this isn’t Duke’s year to score big in recruiting.

They landed talented guard Rasheed Sulaimon early but have subsequently missed on all of their other primary targets, namely big men and athletic wing players. While Jefferson at 6-foot-8 has the height of a power forward and is listed as such, he is more of a wing forward, but still he is a body Duke could probably use next season given their well documented depth issues.

At this point nobody really seems to have a clue as to what the talented Philadelphia Friends Central High product is going to do. Up until recently many felt that perhaps Kentucky seemed to be the eventual landing spot for Jefferson, especially after talented forward Anthony Bennett dropped or was dropped by the Wildcats.

Up and coming NC State as well as Villanova are also still in the mix, and though most have seemed to rule out hometown Villanova, I’m beginning to wonder if all the additional time Jefferson has taken to decide wasn’t just the result of his wanting or contemplating the idea of staying close to home.

But there is no doubt in my mind that Duke landing Jefferson would be a bigger boost to the morale of the fans than it would be to Duke’s chances of competing for a national title next season.

Don’t get me wrong, with or without Jefferson, Duke will be good, but I find it hard to see with all the other talented teams, that Duke is going to be a serious threat to win it all in 2013.  That isn’t pessimistic as much as it is realistic. The Blue Devils have serious question marks heading into the season and we won’t have answers until they start playing.

Right now the fan base seems split three ways. There are those in total panic mode; there are those who are more realistic and grounded; and then there are those that are just flat out delusional.

All of those groups would take Jefferson signing as a positive bit of momentum after what has been an awful offseason so far. The chicken littles probably won’t think it will matter in the long run because to them Mike Krzyzewski is past his prime and Steve Wojciechowski is the big man coach. Or is it Jeff Capel? Or does it even matter because all Duke big men do is set screens and rebound?

The grounded fan, who I consider myself one, will see Jefferson as an important signing but more likely to contribute in a couple of years. As for this coming season’s team they will be good just not elite.

Then there are the seemingly delusional fans who are thinking Duke is going to be a national title contender but they think that most seasons. Some of those fans have started drawing parallels to the 2010 squad. And I’ll admit there are some similarities and it is easy to fall into that mindset.

The 2009 team had an embarrassing NCAA Tournament loss, and lost one of its best players to the NBA. That is exactly what happened this season, though in fairness to the 2009 squad, they at least made it to the Sweet 16. The 2012 Duke team didn’t make it past the first round against a 15-seed.

There were obvious depth and talent concerns following the 2009 season just like after this season. So the similarities are there but I think it is a bit unrealistic to think that next year’s team will follow the same path as the 2010 team.

Jefferson isn’t that much of a difference maker. He is talented, smart and most likely a great teammate and individual but that doesn’t make Duke a contender. I see him as being a four year player who could develop into a very talented college player and potential pro, but he isn’t Kyrie Irving or Austin Rivers or any other uber talented one and done type.

Duke will still be without that type of player and yes I know they didn’t have one of those in 2010. But still it is a team that should still be good, however, the comparisons to 2010 probably don’t do anything but set you up for failure and disappointment.

That being said, if on Tuesday, Jefferson announces that he will be a Blue Devil I will feel just a tinge more hopeful about next year’s chances but then again I still don’t think they win a title but like I said at least the expectations will certainly get a boost.