Ranking Duke Basketball’s Best in the One-and-Done Era

Jahlil Okafor Duke

Photo: Pat Lovell-USA Today Sports

Over the last decade, Duke Basketball has their fair share of “one-and-dones.” In the OAD era (2006-current,) the Blue Devils have had 10 one-and-done players (7 of which were Top 10 picks in the NBA Draft). They will likely add to that list with the incoming freshmen for the 2017-18 season, including #1 overall player Marvin Bagley III, who is having a phenomenal start to the season.

Those players have had varying degrees of success during their lone season at Duke. We wanted to rank each of their years to see who really had the best one-and-done season.

#10 – Harry Giles

Harry Giles came into his lone season of college ranked by some as the #1 player in the country and reminding people of Chris Webber. He also came in having had two major knee surgeries during his high school career. Giles would add a third surgery before Duke began their season. While he showed a few flashes of what Blue Devil fans had hoped to see from him, he only played in 26 games averaging 11.5 minutes, 4 points, and 4 rebounds. He did leave his lasting mark on Duke’s ACC Championship with his block of Justin Jackson on the defensive end and immediately following it up with an alley-oop dunk on the other.

#9 – Frank Jackson

Frank Jackson was the #14 overall player and #4 overall point guard coming out of Lone Peak High School. He was a McDonald’s All-American and Slam Dunk Champion. Duke fans were salivating at the thought of Jackson playing point guard. Unfortunately it seemed giving him the reigns to the team came a little too late in the season. Like Giles, he too missed a few games due to injury. He played in 36 games averaging 25 minutes, 10.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2 assists while shooting 39% from three. His best game of the season game against Florida State in Cameron when he played 33 minutes scoring 22 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 75-70 victory over the Seminoles.

#8 – Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving was Duke’s first one-and-done since Luol Deng in 2004. Irving was the #2 overall player and #1 overall point guard in his class. He wasn’t first, no the last, to be injured during his lone season in Durham as he only played in 11 game before going down with a toe injury. Before he got hurt, Irving had Blue Devil fans thinking back-to-back National Championships. His best game game in Cameron as he scored 31 points in a 84-79 win over #6 Michigan State. It would be in the next game that he would be injured and would not return until Duke’s opening round game in the NCAA Tournament against Hampton. In his 11 regular season games, Irving averaged 27.5 minutes, 17.5 points, 4 assists, 1.5 steals while shooting 46% from three.

#7 – Austin Rivers

Like Irving, Austin Rivers was the #2 overall player in his class out of Winter Park High School. It was a very up-and-down season for Rivers even though he played in 34 games averaging 33 minutes, 15.5 points, 2 assists, 1 steal while shooting only 66% from the FT line. The highlight of his, and Duke’s season game against #5 North Carolina in Chapel Hill as he beat UNC on a buzzer beater to stun the Tar Heel faithful. That season is also the one in which Duke was a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and lost their opening round game to #15 seed Lehigh. Rivers was still named ACC Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team, as well as First team All-ACC.

#6 – Justise Winslow

Justice Winslow was the #14 player in his senior class. Many Duke fans didn’t think he would be a one-and-done, especially during his rough stretch during the season. He rebounded strong though playing in 39 games averaging 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal while averaging 42% from three. He would help lead the Blue Devils to the National Championship while being named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.

#5 – Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram was one of the top high school seniors in 2015. He came in with a lot of expectations to carry Duke as they had lost four key members of their National Championship team the previous season. He had rough start to the season, seemingly unable to handle the physical nature of certain teams like the Kentucky Wildcats. Ingram got stronger throughout the season and really found his groove during ACC play highlighted by his 25 points in a win against #7 Virginia at home and his 20 points in an upset victory at #5 UNC. During 36 games he averaged 35 minutes, 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block while shooting 41% from three. Ingram would go on to be named ACC Freshman of the Year (Dukes third in a row), Second team All-ACC, and AP Honorable Mention All-American.

#4 – Jayson Tatum

Jason Tatum was another key piece to one of the greatest recruiting classes in Duke history. He was the #4 overall ranked player (#1 SF) from Saint Louis, MO. Like Harry Giles, Tatum would miss a portion of the season due to injury. But when he returned, he showed why so many labeled him as a future NBA superstar. In 29 games he averaged 33 minutes, 17 points, 7 rebounds, an assist, and a steal. He helped lead the Blue Devils to history as they won four straight games to become the first team to ever do so in route to claiming the ACC Championship. He also provided a highlight in the Duke/Carolina rivalry that will be replayed over and over again when he dunked on Kennedy Meeks in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tatum was named to the ACC All-Freshman team. The season ended early again for the Blue Devils as they were knocked out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

#3 – Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker was the #1 player in the country by many recruiting services until Andrew Wiggins reclassified. The Blue Devils had lost a lot from the prior season with three key players graduating, another player transferring, and Associate Head Coach Chris Collins being named Head Coach at Northwestern. During his lone season at Duke, Parker lead the Blue Devils to the ACC Championship game which they lost to #1 Virginia 72-63. In 35 games he averaged 31 minutes, 19 points, 9 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block while shooting 47% from the field becoming the first freshman to lead the team in both scoring and rebounding. He was named ACC Freshman of the Year, First team All-ACC, as well as All-American by numerous national media outlets.

#2 – Tyus Jones

Tyus Jones arrived at Duke as the #7 overall player (and #2 point guard) in the country out of Apple Valley High School. Many fans were wondering how Tyus and senior Quinn Cook would get along in the backcourt. It turned out to be a match made in Heaven as Cook mentored Jones who seemed to make big play after big play when the Blue Devils needed it the most, earning him the nickname Tyus “Stones.” Jones finished his lone season at Duke playing in 39 games averaging 34 minutes, 12 points, 6 assists, 3.5 rebounds while shooting 89% from the FT line. He was named AP Honorable Mention All-American, selected to the NCAA All-Tournament team, and was chosen as the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. He may be remember most of all for his celebration of the game sealing three point shot.

#1 – Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil Okafor, the #1 player in the country, was part of quite possibly the greatest package deal in college basketball history. Okafor lived up to the hype in his only season at Duke playing in 38 games while averaging 30 minutes, 17 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1 block while shooting 66% from the field. He was named both ACC Freshman and Player of the Year (first freshman to ever win the honor), First team All-ACC, unanimous First team All-American, and of course National Champion.

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