When you look at the success of the Duke Basketball program over the past four decades, there are a number of people who deserve a great deal of credit for helping build the program to what it’s become.
Perhaps no group deserves more credit than the 1982 recruiting class, the group that helped lay the foundation for Mike Krzyzewski and get Duke back into the discussion of being one of the powers of the ACC and the rest of college basketball.
This six-man class featured an incredible collection of talent from around the country and included Weldon Williams, Bill Jackman, David Henderson, Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie and Johnny Dawkins.
Williams never became part of the rotation at Duke and Jackman transferred, but the other four individuals combined to help turn the Blue Devils around and finished their college careers in the national championship game, where they’d fall just short against Louisville in a 37-win season.
For a group that began as freshmen with an 11-17 record, which had many people calling for Mike Krzyzewski’s job, the transformation they helped create in Durham is a big part of why Coach K still credits this group for the success he now has today. The 1982 class built something that’s become much bigger than themselves.
Dawkins, Alarie, Henderson and Bilas all finished with over 1,000 points during their Duke careers, and Dawkins went on to become one of the most decorated players in the history of the program.
He was a two-time All American and the 1986 National Player of the Year. His 2,556 points scored during his career would be a Duke record for 20 years before J.J. Redick surpassed the mark in 2006.
Along with Dawkins, David Henderson was a valuable starter during his first three years and then filled the role as the team’s sixth man as a senior. Despite his constant mockery of his own game, Jay Bilas was actually a reliable role player in the paint for the Blue Devils. And, in my opinion, Mark Alarie is still one of the more underrated players in Duke history.
Alarie was a two-time All-ACC performer and was an All-American as a senior, when he averaged over 17 points per game. He possessed a terrific assortment of offensive moves and was an extremely efficient scorer, as evidenced by his career shooting average of 55-percent.
This was a group of tremendously talented individuals who gelled together over a four-year period to create a terrific team. Were it not for an amazing performance by Louisville’s Pervis Ellison in the national championship game, this is a group that could have brought Mike Krzyzewski his first title.
While they came up just short of that goal, they can take pride in knowing they helped pave the way for the national titles Duke would eventually win in the years to come.