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When Will Duke Basketball Retire Another Jersey?

Duke UNC Basketball
Photo: Mark Dolejs – USATSI

It’s been over eight years since the Duke Basketball program retired a jersey to the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The last player to have his jersey retired was J.J. Redick, which was in 2007. It was a year after J.J. finished an amazing four years at Duke, becoming the school’s all-time points leader and, at the time, the ACC’s all-time leading scorer.

According to the Duke Media Guide, the program has retired 13 jerseys.

  • #10 – Dick Groat – retired on May 1, 1952.
  • #25 – Art Heyman – retired on March 4, 1990
  • #44 – Jeff Mullins – retired on December 6, 1994
  • #43 – Mike Gminski – retired on February 20, 1980
  • #24 – Johnny Dawkins – retired on February 22, 1986
  • #35 Danny Ferry – retired on February 18, 1989
  • #32 Christian Laettner – retired on February 26, 1992
  • #11 Bobby Hurley – retired on February 28, 1993
  • #33 Grant Hill – retired on February 27, 1994
  • #31 Shane Battier – retired on February 21, 2001
  • #22 Jason Williams – retired on February 5, 2003
  • #23 Shelden Williams – retired on January 28, 2007
  • #4 J.J. Redick – retired on February 4, 2007

That’s 13 banners hanging from the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium. 13 talented players (many who helped win national championships) who will always be remembered.

The following is the explanation from the Duke media guide about retiring a player’s number:

“Though there is no ‘official’ criteria to have a jersey retired at Duke, a player must achieve at a national level — earn National Player of the Year or National Defensive Player of the Year honors, set an NCAA record, win a gold medal representing his country in the Olympics or earn All-America recognition. What distinguishes Duke’s retired jersey players from many other schools is the main criteria. No jersey will be retired at Duke unless the player has earned his degree.”

Since the last retired jersey of J.J. Redick in 2007, there have been some very talented players to play at Duke, including Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers, Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones.

One would think if any of those players played all four years at Duke, with their talent and ability, they would have stood a good chance at having their jersey retired. Instead, all the above players left early for the NBA, and who can blame them?

It’s been an ongoing argument/conversation on social media and sports message boards for colleges across the country about players leaving early for the draft. My opinion has always been – you can always go back to college and get an education but your body will only be NBA ready for so many years. Get the millions while you can.

We all know the college game has changed over the past couple decades. It used to be that players would stay all four years and then head to the NBA. Now, the current situation in college basketball has players being drafted early based on potential.

Coach K was able to go almost twenty years without having a player leave early to the NBA Draft. However, in 1999, Elton Brand and William Avery left after their sophomore seasons, and Corey Maggette became the first one-and-done for Coach K.

Over the years with the changing landscape of college basketball, Coach K has been one of the best, if not the best coach, to adapt his teams to have one-and-done players mixed in with four year role players.

Coach K’s 2015 national championship team starters had three one-and-done players in Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow, to go along with a four year role player/captain in Quinn Cook and a third year role player in Amile Jefferson.

With the current landscape of college basketball and the NBA draft, when do you think Duke will retire another jersey? Comment below or share your thoughts with me on Twitter @Skeelow22.

You can follow Freddie on Twitter @Skeelow22 or his blog at: skeelowdukefan.com.

One comment

  1. I don’t see it happening anytime soon.  J. Williams is the only one on that list that wasn’t a senior but he did get his degree in just three years, along with fellow classmate Boozer, before heading to the NBA.  Part of the criteria for having their jersey retired is that they must make a connection to the fan base which is difficult to do in just one year.  

    Personally, I feel a disconnect with all of NCAA basketball that I did not feel in the 90’s and early 2000’s because of how quickly the faces change–I’d like to see the NBA accept kids right out of high school or three years removed (MLB rules).  I think it would allow the most talented ones to get their money while the rest develop their skills that will lead to a more watchable NBA and return that level of consistency and attachment to the NCAA.