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Why Duke's one and done's will haunt and prevent them from ever winning another championship

Ever since Duke won its 5th NCAA Championship on April 6th, 2015, Duke Men's Basketball went downhill. There was a common theme with each Duke championship roster. Each roster had the perfect mix of talent and leaders. Leaders in regards to this context means UPPERCLASSMEN. To get even further and more specific, actual game-changing and talented upperclassmen leaders. Duke hasn't had a good mix of these two traits in over five years. Here are some key players from Duke's five championship-winning teams and the trend between these rosters become to be noticeable and true:


  • Christian Laettner (Junior)

  • Grant Hill (Freshman)

  • Bobby Hurley (Sophomore)

  • Brian Davis (Junior)


  • Christian Laettner (Senior)

  • Grant Hill. (Sophomore)

  • Bobby Hurley (Junior)

  • Brian Davis (Senior)

  • Cherokee Parks (Freshman)


  • Carlos Boozer (Sophomore)

  • Nate James (Senior)

  • Chris Duhon (Freshman)

  • Jason Williams (Sophomore)

  • Shane Battier (Senior)

  • Mike Dunleavy (Sophomore)


  • Nolan Smith (Junior)

  • Seth Curry (Sophomore)

  • Mason Plumlee (Freshman)

  • Kyle Singler (Junior)

  • Andre Dawkins (Freshman)

  • Miles Plumlee (Sophomore)

  • Jon Scheyer (Senior)

  • Ryan Kelly (Freshman)

  • Brian Zoubek (Senior)


  • Quinn Cook (Senior)

  • Justice Winslow (Freshman)

  • Grayson Allen (Freshman)

  • Tyus Jones (Freshman)

  • Matt Jones (Sophomore)

  • Jahlil Okafor (Freshman)

  • Amile Jefferson (Junior)

After the 2014-2015 college basketball season, the five-star freshman commits became less and less valuable. Not just on Duke, but most high-level D1 teams in the NCAA. Don't get me wrong. Zion Williamson made an immediate impact on the Blue Devils and carried Duke throughout the season. But since the Blue Devils' 2015 championship and pretty much ever since then for all of college basketball, the flashy, highly-rated freshman have not been able to carry their team to win a championship. After each NCAA Championship game, all the talk is about the upperclassmen and the leadership shown on the team and about 25% or less of the buzz is about the freshman. You can make a case that after the 2015 National Championship, each team that won the championship has had a roster of mostly veterans. Below are key players on a championship-winning team ever since the 2015 game and there is quite a common theme:

2016: Villanova Wildcats

  • Jalen Brunson (Freshman)

  • Kris Jenkins (Junior)

  • Josh Hart (Junior)

  • Ryan Arcidiacono (Senior)

  • Daniel Ochefu (Senior)

2017: University of North Carolina

  • Nate Britt (Senior)

  • Theo Pinson (Junior)

  • Joel Berry II (Junior)

  • Kennedy Meeks (Senior)

  • Isaiah Hicks (Senior)

  • Kenny Williams (Sophomore)

  • Luke Maye (Sophomore)

  • Justin Jackson (Junior)

2018: Villanova Wildcats

  • Jalen Brunson (Junior)

  • Eric Paschall (Junior)

  • Donte DiVincenzo (Sophomore)

  • Mikal Bridges (Junior)

  • Omari Spellman (Freshman)

2019: Virginia Cavaliers

  • Braxton Key (Junior)

  • Kyle Guy (Junior)

  • Ty Jerome (Junior)

  • De'Andre Hunter (Sophomore)

  • Mamadi Diakite (Junior)

  • Jack Salt (Senior)

2021: Baylor Bears

  • Davion Mitchell (Junior)

  • MaCio Teague (Senior)

  • Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (Sophomore)

  • Jackson Moffatt (Sophomore)

  • Jared Butler (Junior)

  • Mark Vital (Senior)

  • Flo Thamba (Junior)

  • Adam Flagler (Sophomore)

In the 2015 March Madness tournament, a great example of talented freshman vs. veterans took place in the Final Four game with Kentucky vs. Wisconsin. Wisconsin won that game with their leadership, their veterans, and their ability and experience to know how to operate in close game situations. As freshmen, Kentucky had Devon Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyler Ulis, and Trey Lyles. Their only leader as an upperclassman was junior Willie Cauley-Stein. With a very large veteran Wisconsin team, Wisconsin's veterans were Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, and Bronson Koenig. Eventually, Duke beat Wisconsin in the National Championship game. But with the one-and-done era taking control over the NCAA now, Duke's championship-winning team in 2015 will be the last team in a very long time to win the championship with a roster containing mostly underclassmen and very few veterans.

The numbers and stats clearly show that the teams winning championships now are the teams that have a lot of veterans on their roster. Freshman talent only has a small impact on the game now. If that five or even three-star freshman stays for three to four years, that player will make such a big impact on his team and will raise the odds of his team winning a championship with the skills, leadership, and resume he brings to the team. Imagine what Duke's 2018-2019 team with Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish could've done if they all stayed three years. Imagine what Kentucky's 2014-2015 team with Devon Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Tyler Ullis would've done if they stayed three or more years. Maybe Villanova or UNC wouldn't have won the next two years following 2015? Who knows what teams can do if their talented freshmen stayed for more than one year.

Duke and the other blue-blood schools will always be haunted with their talented freshmen leaving after the first year and the lack of veterans they have. Freshmen don't win championships in this era anymore. Teams with veterans do. With players staying for more than one year, that team will form really good chemistry and will play well with one another. Look at the Baylor team who won this year's championship. Their core was mainly juniors and seniors. Watching that team was like watching the 2017-2018 Golden State Warriors with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant. The chemistry and team playing were unbelievable. If players stay longer, especially key players on a team, teams will be built stronger and tougher with the number of veterans on their team, and their chances of winning a championship will rise. This is why the Duke Blue Devils will never win a championship again. Until they have more veterans on their team who can put the ball in the bucket and not rely on the freshman to score, they will continue to be disappointed by their performance each season by losing early in the tournament. Not just Duke, but all of the other blue-blood schools.

If the blue-blood teams follow what UNC, Baylor, Virginia, Villanova, and a bunch of other schools who have a bunch of veterans on their team that contribute a lot to the table, men's college basketball will take a big turn and turn out a lot more interesting.

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