Dawkins' early arrival provides depth
With Gerald Henderson's departure for the NBA and Elliot Williams transferring to Memphis, the Duke Blue Devils had a major hole in the backcourt. That void could largely be filled by Andre Dawkins (Chesapeake, Va./Atlantic Shores Christian), who is pursuing the chance enroll at Duke in the fall. Formerly a 2010 recruit, Dawkins could head to Duke a year earlier than initially planned.
Dawkins, the No. 10 prospect and No. 2 shooting guard in the Class of 2010, should see considerable minutes as a freshman. He's a dead-eye shooter in the mold of former Duke standouts J.J. Redick and Trajan Langdon, but at 6-foot-5, Dawkins has better size than either of those sharpshooters. He has a shooter's mentality and the ability to drain jumpers with a defender in his face. His motor when working for shots off the ball is never-ending, and Duke's system will play to that strength. If Dawkins were in the 2009 class when we ranked those players, I believe he would have been somewhere between 25 and 30 nationally. His presence also would have moved Duke up a spot or two in our final recruiting rankings -- the Blue Devils finished ninth.
Dawkins' athleticism might not be on par with Henderson's, but he's above-average in that area. He also is a good defensive player who can be an asset to Duke on the perimeter. He can get to the basket effectively off the dribble and is strong enough to finish near the hoop. Dawkins needs to refine his middle game. The ability to pull up off the dribble is essential for any top-notch scorer. He also needs to work on his left hand. But both those abilities should improve with time and instruction.
His presence gives Duke invaluable depth and skill. Dawkins joins big men Ryan Kelly (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft) and Mason Plumlee (Warsaw, Ind./Christ School) in the Blue Devils' 2009 class. Both Duke's other incoming prospects have an unusual amount of skill to go with their size.
Kelly's jumper extends out to 3-point territory, while Plumlee can be counted on to hit shots from 15 feet and in.
This incoming class, when combined with returning contributors Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer, will give Duke a lineup that will be very tough for opposing defenses to stop. Look for the Blue Devils to spread the floor and find the most advantageous matchup. With this type of lineup on the floor, I would expect the Blue Devils to be one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation.
Paul Biancardi, who spent 2007-08 as an assistant coach on Rick Majerus' staff at Saint Louis University, is the national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc. He has 18 years of coaching experience at the Division I level. He was an assistant at Boston University, Boston College and Ohio State before becoming the head coach at Wright State, where he earned Horizon League Coach of the Year honors in the 2003-04 season. He is on the selection committees for the Gatorade National Player of the Year award and the McDonald's All-American Game.