What Adding Brandon Ingram Means for Duke

Duke Celebration
Photo: Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports

Monday’s announcement from Brandon Ingram that he would be committing to the Blue Devils capped off an incredible past month for the Duke basketball program.

Between winning the national championship on April 6, retaining Jeff Capel as Associate Head Coach after being offered the Arizona State head coaching job, having three likely first round picks declare for the NBA Draft, and landing three commitments for the class of 2015, Duke has been the talk of college basketball over the past month.

After the announcements of draft declarations from Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones, many believed the Blue Devils could go through a rocky transition next season after losing so much production from this past year’s national championship team.

However, as he often does, Mike Krzyzewski figured out a way to reload.

Though Duke missed on landing 2015 5-star center Caleb Swanigan, the program added depth by securing a commitment from 6’11”, 270-pound 3-star center Antonio Vrankovic.

Then, Coach K made the big splash in the recruiting world that will have the Blue Devils in position to potentially repeat as national champions.

With the point guard situation looking somewhat dire for Duke next season, the staff managed to persuade 5-star point guard Derryck Thornton into reclassifying from the class of 2016 into this year’s class and joining the program next season.

Thornton gives the Blue Devils one of the best incoming point guards in America and allows other guards like Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard the ability to remain in their more natural off-guard positions.

The decision by Thornton also helped sway 5-star small forward Brandon Ingram into committing to Duke, which gave the Blue Devils the No. 1 recruiting class in the country this year. With his decision to come to Durham, it solidifies another incredible recruiting class for Coach K and puts the team in position to compete for the ACC and national championships in 2016.

Ingram was the final piece to that puzzle.

At 6’8”, 200 pounds, Ingram is a versatile forward who’s one of the best wing players in the 2015 class. He’s ranked in the 247Sports Composite as the No. 4 overall player in the country, and was one of the most talked about players during the All-Star game circuit because of his athleticism and scoring ability.

While he’s a very different player from Justise Winslow, particularly because Ingram excels more offensively while Winslow’s more natural strength was on defense, Ingram is similar to Justise in that he’ll be a weapon Coach K can use in a variety of ways as a match-up problem.

His length offers him the opportunity to get off his shot against smaller to defenders, and I see him being a very effective weapon when teams try to play zone against the Blue Devils. Between Ingram’s ability to create and being surrounded by shooters like Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Matt Jones, Duke should have an extremely potent wing attack.

The addition of Ingram also takes the pressure off the Blue Devil post players. Though I think Amile Jefferson is underrated and can increase his scoring production when necessary, he, Marshall Plumlee, and Chase Jeter can focus on asserting themselves with tough defense and rebounding. They’ll get their opportunities to score around the basket, but Duke appears to now have three primary scoring options in Allen, Kennard, and Ingram, and a natural distributor in Thornton.

With the additions of Thornton and Ingram in the past week, Coach K has gone from having a Top 25 caliber/Sweet 16 capable team next season to having a group that will likely find itself in the Top 5 or 10 of most polls and a Final Four candidate once again.

However, now begins the difficult process of bringing a team together that can eventually evolve into a champion next April. We had the opportunity to watch that amazing process this past season. Let’s hope we get to watch it again.

9 comments

  1. Duke Blue Devils

    you allowed @davidmaldridge back in the country after South Africa deported him?

  2. judi m

    it means HahahahahahhaHaaa UNC you lost him!!!

  3. It will be interesting to see how this team and its young stars develop.  Unfortunately for them, they will immediately be compared to last years team with 4 freshman.  That was such a special team: great freshman talent at several positions, an unbelievable will to win, great chemistry, and a heady point guard who played like a calm veteran.  This team will forge its own identity and hopefully bond together and play exceptional defense too.  It looks to me like Thornton is quicker, more aggressive and more athletic than Tyus Jones but may not have his uncanny ability to carry the team and make the right plays when needed. I think Grayson and Kennard will form a dynamic tag team of two tough nosed kids who can score points in droves.  I see Jeter and Jefferson splitting time at PF.  While Jeter has a good motor, is long, and has a sweet, almost unblockable hook shot, he is a bit thin and may find the going tough his first year.  I also see Obi being our man in the paint.  While he may not score in bunches, he should hold down the fort by clogging up the middle and becoming  a rebounding machine. Lastly, Ingram will be the man that brings a lot of goods to the table with his incredible wingspan and scoring versatility.  He will blocks shots, rebound and go to the basket because of his great length and score in transition on breakaways, pull up jumpers etc.  The man can score from anywhere and in any way.  How does a guard or small forward guard him when he can so easily shoot over top of them?  Matt Jones should be a glue guy and lockdown defender who gets minutes at SG and SF.

    While I am very optimistic about this team, it is probably too much to expect a repeat.  Fortunately, I do not see many players on this team leaving early except for maybe Ingram so 2016-17 should be even better.
    Read more at https://dukereport.com/duke-basketball/what-adding-brandon-ingram-means-for-duke/daldridge/#vfoVK1hpvIlWl6IQ.99

  4. We certainly have something for which to look forward!

  5. I agree with you mcchesii. All Duke fans I hope realize how fortunate we were to have had this collection of talent play for Duke, even if it was only one year. The players had a will to win, and K had that will to lead, which I’ve thought was missing for the last few years from him. This team set the bar high and this new collection of talent has some big shoes to fill. No one knows how it will play out. The talent seems there, the question to me is whether they develop as good a chemistry as the 15 team had. So much talent on paper with so many guys that will play same position. That is the concern I have. Matt jones Grayson, Thornton and Luke Kenard. Jefferson, Jeter, Plumlee, Obi and Ingram. K seems to have more choices which I hope doesn’t affect the players mindset. The expectations will be high due to this class coming in with what is returning. I hope it works out as well for this team. Time will tell

  6. caseyellisjohnson

    Interesting. I said the similar things about this team in the last comment section. Elite perimeter offensive weapons is VERY key to winning a championship in college basketball. Which is why this team should be the #1 preseason favorites. Their offensive weapons and experience should immediately make them better than last years team. 

    Lastly, I’m not worried about the development/chemistry either. As long as they’re in sync come Tourney time (NCAA & Conference) they’ll be fine. Having the worlds best coach at bringing teams together, using the right players to do so, its not going to be a problem this year. 

    I think Thornton is better than Tyus (gets in the paint with ease & is a better defender).

    Jeter isn’t as dominant as Okafor in the post but a better help defender & rotates on defense a lot better.

    Ingram isn’t as big, strong or defensive as Winslow, but he’s a better shot creator, facilitator, shooter & all around scorer.

    Lastly, the help. Upper classman who’ve won it all. Deeper bench (especially big man rotation). And a plethora of perimeter shooters who can also drive & kick. All are average to above average defenders.

  7. Its official.  When we play Ingram, Jefferson, and Jeter at the same time it will be the skinniest front court of all time.

  8. Hilarious line Tokoto. This team has a lot of hype on them, hype due to success of 15 title team. If these new guys are as good as advertised and they have chemistry as good as 15 team then they will have a good year. I’m not predicting a title as some might be just yet, but they could play deep into March if things fall the way we want them to

  9. Michael Christmas

    uh, you just HAD to post a pic with an illusion of Jefferson about to bite the crap out of Plumlee