Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski has landed some talented recruits during his tenure with the Blue Devils, including some Kansas basketball prospects in recent years.
Some talented names have passed on Kansas in favor of Duke, taking their talents to the ACC.
Coach K has regularly fielded his players in the NBA and sits with Kansas head coach Bill Self as arguably one of the most successful college coaches in history.
The five-time national champion head coach has an 8-5 record against the Jayhawks, and will not meet Kansas during the upcoming regular season. If the two square off again, it’ll be during “the big dance”.
Now that Coach K has announced that he will be making his departure following the 2021-22 season, associate head coach Jon Scheyer will take his place at Duke as head coach the next season.
With this being said, there are a few players that were swayed away from the Jayhawks by Coach K, opting to play their college careers in Durham, North Carolina.
Duke scored one of their best prospects in history in 2019, Zion Williamson. Picking the Blue Devils over heavy efforts from Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Clemson.
Arguably one of the best recruits ever secured by Coach K has been Williamson. Not only did he contribute immensely on the court during his one season in Durham, but his support also helped lead Duke to the East Regional finale.
Despite the season-ending loss to Michigan State, Zion’s one season with the Blue Devils hailed him as a strong target in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Heading into the draft, Williamson had averaged 22 points per game and was hitting his stride, contributing 20+ points per game in both the ACC conference tourney and NCAA Tournament.
Williamson would end up being selected first overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2019 NBA Draft. He would compete in the 2019-20 season and the Orlando restart later that year due to the pandemic. Williamson would return in 2020-21 for the NBA’s emergence from the bubble, playing in 61 of 84 games and averaging 27 points per game that season.
Before the pandemic, Kansas was backing Sierra Canyon shooting guard Cassius Stanley. Despite additional offers from UCLA and Oregon, the Rivals 150 No. 33 ranked recruit decided to join Coach K at Duke.
Stanley would credit his decision to Duke’s coaching staff, led by Coach K. The choice would prove to be effective, finding himself contributing out of the gate in the 2019-20 season.
During his first and only season with the Blue Devils, Stanley would average just under 13 points per game and made 29 appearances during the year. He would then be drafted 54th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Throughout his first season in the NBA, he would find appearances in 24 games. Stanley would become inactive in late January and would make his return against the Denver Nuggets in early March.
Minnesota native and five-star small forward Matthew Hurt committed his talents to Duke over a scholarship offer from both Kansas and Kentucky in 2019. The high-profiled recruit was sure to be a beneficial addition inside almost wherever he landed.
Currently exploring the NBA Draft process, Hurt is eyeing the jump to the pros. However, his days with Coach K are something that the Jayhawks missed out on.
Hurt found substantial floor time during his freshman and sophomore seasons at Duke, posting an impressive average of 32 minutes per game this past season. He would also be listed on the 2020-21 All-ACC team, as well as earning ACC Most Improved Player (MIP) honors.
There has been some speculation that the San Antonio Spurs have considered Hurt to be an admirable prospect for the upcoming draft, based on his versatility on offense.
Coach K will be making one last ride for the 2021-22 season, with inclusion in the Champions Classic and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
When the official schedule comes out, however, there will be a race to score tickets for Krzyzewski’s final home at Cameron Indoor Stadium. While Kansas fans may not see the Blue Devils during the regular season, they shouldn’t count out the chance of one last NCAA Tournament matchup.