Duke Domination Hits NBA Draft
By Paul Ensslin
DURHAM, N.C. Duke could make history Wednesday night during the NBA draft at MCI Center by becoming the first school to have four players chosen in the first round.
Three of the four players are underclassmen Elton Brand and William Avery, who left after their sophomore seasons, and Corey Maggette, who spent only one season here. Senior Trajan Langdon is the fourth player in the group.
The four players already helped make history once this year when they led the Blue Devils to the first 16-0 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke was 37-2 for the season and prompted discussion that it might be among the greatest college teams of all time leading up to the NCAA title game. In that contest, the Blue Devils lost to Connecticut, 77-74.
Krzyzewski said seniors should be the most coveted players in the draft because they are the most polished, particularly at a program such as Duke, which had no one leave early prior to this year. Then again, no former Duke player, with the exception of Detroit's Grant Hill, has become an NBA star in recent years.
Six times previously a school has had three first-round picks in the same year, the most recent being 1996, when former Kentucky players Antoine Walker, Tony Delk and Walter McCarty went sixth (to Boston), 16th (to Charlotte) and 19th (to New York), respectively. Last year, three schools had two first-round picks.
In some ways, four first-round picks could produce positive publicity. But Krzyzewski does not see it as a positive precedent.
There are 39 early entries in Wednesday's draft. Nearly all of the first 13 picks are expected to be non-seniors. The 1996 record of 17 non-seniors selected in the first 29 picks could fall Wednesday.
"You cannot just constantly keep losing players early where it doesn't have an impact on where they've left and where they are going," Krzyzewski said.
Krzyzewski said that, even though he didn't agree with all of his underclassmen's decisions to leave school, he will be very supportive of them and will do whatever he can to help them succeed as pros. He'll also be happy to see his school so well-represented in the draft.
"Me not supporting the decisions does not mean that I don't support a kid," Krzyzewski said. "In no way did I ever say that I don't support a kid. I'll help William Avery and Corey Maggette in any way I can.
"William and Corey went to their profession, the thing they feel is going to be their profession for a certain part of their life. We're still very supportive of them. I need to be able to tell them what I think would be best; that doesn't mean there's conflict.
"Everything that happens for those kids will turn out to be pretty good," Krzyzewski said. "Whether that's the best it could turn out, who knows? Maybe we'll never know."
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company