Compiling list of the 10 best basketball players from Duke University is a difficult undertaking. There have been so many great players in the history of that storied program that paring down the list to most important players will likely lead to some very spirited debates.
- Christian Laettner. Where to begin? Laettner started in four Final Fours. He won two NCAA Championships. He averaged seventeen points and eight rebounds over his career. In short, he dominated. And his game-winning shot against Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional final is perhaps the most iconic image in the history of college basketball. Those Laettner-led teams were arguably the pinnacle of Duke dominance.
- Grant Hill. In addition to being the guy that heaved the perfectly placed 75 foot pass to set up Laettner's game-winner, Hill's hyper-athletic game and highly polished skill set led many to tout him as the "next Jordan." He won two championships with Laettner, and also led Duke to the final game the year after Laettner and Hurley graduated.
- Johnny Dawkins. Arguably one of the most exciting Duke players of all time, Dawkins led the Blue Devils in scoring all four years. In 1986, Dawkins was awarded the Naismith College Player of the Year award, having averaged twenty points a game. That same year, he led Duke to the NCAA Championship game, losing to Louisville in a heartbreaker. Many of his records stood for more than twenty years, making him one of the very best Duke players in history.
- Bobby Hurley. Often overshadowed by flashier teammates, Grant Hill and Christian Laettner, Hurley was the "floor general" of a high-octane Duke offense that captured two NCAA titles. He was awarded the 1992 Final MVP award. A year after his graduation, his number 11 jersey was retired, securing his place among the greatest players in Duke history.
- Jason Williams. A serious of unfortunate events befell Jason Williams once he left Duke, spoiling what many believed would be a long and glorious pro career. However, while he was at Duke he earned his spot among the very best Duke players of all time. His 2001 tournament performance is one of the greatest of all time, averaging over 25 points a game while leading the Blue Devils to yet another NCAA title.
- Shane Battier. As he has proven over his NBA career, you can be extremely effective and valuable without scoring the basketball. Shane Battier, perhaps more than any other player, embodied everything Coach K emphasizes: team, defensive, unselfishness, and hardwork. His contribution to the 2001 NCAA championship squad were largely overshadowed by the flashier play of teammate Jason Williams.
- Danny Ferry. Before he was the much-maligned GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ferry was a standout player at Duke, where he averaged 22 points, seven rebounds, and four assists during his senior season–a season that culminated in a trip to the Final Four.
- Elton Brand. Even though he only played two seasons at Duke, Brand did more than enough to secure his spot among the best players in Duke history, take his team to the championship game, and winning the Naismith Player of the Year award. He gave Blue Devils an tough inside presence that they'd lacked in previous seasons.
- Carlos Boozer. Much like Brand, Boozer played a hard-nosed game–mostly in the paint. He was instrumental in the 2001 championship team playing alongside Williams, Battier and Mike Dunleavy. He left for the NBA after his junior year, yet his place among the Duke greats is without question.
- Mark Alarie. Alarie was the star of Coach K's first Final Four team. He was lanky 6'8" forward with a great shooting touch, finishing his career with averages of sixteen points and six rebounds a game. Often credited with helping usher in the Krzyzewski era, Alarie will forever be counted among the best Duke players of all time.
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