So Amile Jefferson will be a Blue Devil after all and thus I owe a bit of a Mea Culpa. If you read any of my columns, even the last one where I kind of sorta promised that it would be my last one on Jefferson, I never thought he’d choose Duke.
Given how Duke’s offseason had gone up until last Tuesday, I was more than a bit convinced that Jefferson would follow Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker and scorn the Blue Devils for either Kentucky or NC State if not hometown Villanova. Perhaps my optimism was a mere defense mechanism to prevent myself from getting all caught up in the hype of another elite recruit.
I was not shocked at the irony that when he finally announced he was making a decision that I would miss it thanks to a vacation I had planned. So when I got word via Twitter that Jefferson had chosen Duke I let out an audible “Yes” with an accompanying fist pump. Seeing that I was in Las Vegas at the time the exhilaration went otherwise unnoticed by those that were around me. Stranger things happen there trust me, but they also stay there.
So now that I’m back I’m pouring over all the pieces written and the hypothesis being drawn regarding what Jefferson’s decision means for Duke. I wasn’t shocked to hear that opposing fan bases overreacted and went to Twitter sending derogatory and classless tweets at a teenager who obviously made a tough decision.
But this column isn’t about those idiots who have nothing better to do than berate kids. It is about what Jefferson will mean for Duke next season. Some fans think a whole lot will happen others think he will do very little, while others don’t really know.
I have no idea what Jefferson’s decision means for next year’s team other than Duke will have another body at their disposal in the post. Jefferson is a talent but he isn’t an elite talent. He isn’t going to come in right away and dominate. He is very unlikely, unless he is better than I am thinking he is, to start and he is likely to be playing behind Ryan Kelly and potentially Alex Murphy at the forward position, especially if Duke employees a lot of three guard lineups.
When I got the news I tweeted something along the line that Jefferson’s decision puts Duke in position to be a Top 15 team as opposed to a Top 25 team. It was meant as more of a joke, but there is some realty in that when you think about it.
Many early season prognostications have Duke as a Top 25 to Top 15 team, some of those were before Jefferson committed, so surely his decision might affect some of the more optimistic analysts perceptions of the Blue Devils. But in reality Jefferson should probably have very little affect on those early perceptions.
Prognostication is far from an exact science and no one really has any clue as to what Jefferson can do for Duke until he plays. Nothing is guaranteed except for the fact that Jefferson will in fact be playing for Duke. How much he plays is entirely up to how quickly he adjusts to the college game and what niche he can carve out for himself.
Now obviously this all sounds a bit like I’m being a bit of a “Debbie Downer” but I prefer to take a more cautious approach, especially never having really seen Jefferson play much beyond the all-star games he has participated in and the various highlight reels. Perhaps he will surprise me and be a more ready to contribute right away than I otherwise think he will be.
I’m glad Jefferson chose Duke, I feel like it will be a good fit and in time Jefferson will become a heck of a player but to think he is going to immediately make Duke a title contender is a bit too optimistic for me, but if it happens I’m sure you won’t see me complaining about it.
Jefferson’s decision ends up doing very little for Duke in the short term but giving them some much needed momentum going into the offseason. You figure the Blue Devils program will get a boost with the upcoming Olympics in London with Mike Krzyzewski coaching the US men’s basketball team at an attempt for its second straight gold medal.
All of this is good news, something all Duke fans needed a bit of but again it guarantees nothing.