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The Success of One-and-Doning

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Bradley Stewart, Sports Editor

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Duke basketball used to thrive on the leadership and seniority of veterans, but with the Blue Devils losing all five starters, four of which who are freshman, the tide has turned in Durham.  Duke now joins Kentucky as a school that primarily uses the explotiable One-and-Done system in College Basketball. This point is slammed home by Coach K’s recruitment of the Top 3 players in next year’s class, RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, while also bringing in the number one point guard in the class, Tre Jones.  This will make two consecutive seasons that the Duke squad will start four freshman and, in all likelihood, the third straight year that a majority of their starting lineup will not return.

Duke and Kentucky have had the top 2 classes in every year since 2014, but in that span, only made a combined three Final Fours and winning one national championship.  Given, that is a lot of Final Fours, one would think that the Top 2 classes would have more success come March. The results get even more staggering if you take the past three seasons, when Duke truly began to rely on One-and-Dones and not as much on senior leadership.  In that span, both teams have one Elite Eight, one Sweet Sixteen, and one Second Round exit.

Since 2015, the parity in College Basketball has increased astronomically, which can be noted by the mass of upsets in this year’s tournament.  When it comes down to what all teams want – winning the National Championship – one stat sticks out. All three teams relied on upperclassmen, not freshman.  The 2016 national champion, Villanova, brought in the 29th best class the year before. The following year, North Carolina recruited the 14th best class. And this past year, Villanova had the 28th best class.  Every champion since 2010, minus two, have relied primarily on upperclassmen and there seems to be no signs of this trend changing.

Every year, Duke and Kentucky top the preseason rankings, but every year, especially the past three, they seem to struggle exceeding in the tournament.  Experience is obviously the factor, as the teams seem to struggle coming together, and typically do it too late. The One-and-Done teams aren’t going to change their ways and maybe they shouldn’t.  But one thing remains clear, if they don’t, they will continue to fall short of expectations.

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The Success of One-and-Doning