Duke University has long been renowned for its illustrious basketball program, consistently producing exceptional players who have left an indelible mark on the sport. Throughout the years, the Blue Devils have seen a plethora of talented athletes grace their court, displaying their skills and contributing to the program’s rich history. Here are the ten best Blue Devils!
- Christian Laettner: Years Played at Duke: 1988-1992 NBA Career: 1992-2005
Christian Laettner stands as one of the most iconic players in Duke basketball history. During his time at Duke, Laettner led the Blue Devils to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1991 and 1992. A versatile forward, he showcased remarkable scoring abilities, averaging 16.6 points per game during his college career. Laettner’s impressive performance earned him numerous accolades, including being named a three-time All-American. In the NBA, he had a respectable career, playing for various teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlanta Hawks.
- Grant Hill: Years Played at Duke: 1990-1994 NBA Career: 1994-2013
Grant Hill’s tenure at Duke University was marked by his incredible versatility and exceptional basketball IQ. During his four-year stint, Hill guided the Blue Devils to consecutive NCAA Championships in 1991 and 1992. Renowned for his all-around game, he showcased his skills as a scorer, rebounder, and playmaker. Hill’s college career boasted an average of 14.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. In the NBA, Hill enjoyed a successful career, earning seven All-Star appearances and showcasing his talents for teams like the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic.
- Shane Battier: Years Played at Duke: 1997-2001 NBA Career: 2001-2014
Known for his relentless defense and exceptional basketball IQ, Shane Battier left an indelible mark during his time at Duke University. A key contributor to the Blue Devils’ NCAA Championship victory in 2001, Battier showcased his all-around skills and leadership on the court. Renowned for his defensive prowess, he garnered multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards during his college career. In the NBA, Battier continued to excel as a defensive stalwart, playing for teams like the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat, where he won two NBA Championships.
- J.J. Redick: Years Played at Duke: 2002-2006 NBA Career: 2006-Present
J.J. Redick’s sharpshooting abilities and offensive prowess made him one of the most feared players in Duke basketball history. During his four years at Duke, Redick displayed an exceptional scoring touch, averaging 19.9 points per game and becoming the all-time leading scorer in Duke history. His skill from beyond the arc was unparalleled, setting a record for the most career three-pointers made in NCAA history. In the NBA, Redick has continued to excel as a lethal shooter for teams such as the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and New Orleans Pelicans.
- Elton Brand: Years Played at Duke: 1997-1999 NBA Career: 1999-2016
Elton Brand’s dominance in the paint and commanding presence made him a force to be reckoned with during his time at Duke University. A two-time consensus All-American, Brand showcased remarkable scoring and rebounding abilities, averaging 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game during his college career. His exceptional performance earned him numerous accolades, including being named the Naismith College Player of the Year in 1999. In the NBA, Brand enjoyed a successful career, playing for teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers.
- Johnny Dawkins: Years Played at Duke: 1982-1986 NBA Career: 1986-1995
Johnny Dawkins is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished guards in Duke basketball history. During his time at Duke, Dawkins displayed exceptional scoring abilities, averaging 20.2 points per game. He was a key figure in helping the Blue Devils reach the NCAA Championship game in 1986. Dawkins’ stellar performance earned him several accolades, including being named a two-time All-American. In the NBA, he had a respectable career, primarily playing for the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers.
- Bobby Hurley: Years Played at Duke: 1989-1993 NBA Career: 1993-1998
Bobby Hurley’s exceptional court vision and leadership skills made him an integral part of Duke’s success during his tenure. Renowned for his ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates, Hurley guided the Blue Devils to consecutive NCAA Championships in 1991 and 1992. He remains the NCAA’s all-time leader in career assists, with 1,076 assists to his name. In the NBA, Hurley’s career was unfortunately cut short due to a car accident, but he showcased his talents with the Sacramento Kings.
- Jay Williams: Years Played at Duke: 1999-2002 NBA Career: 2002-2003
Jay Williams’ electrifying style of play and exceptional ball-handling skills captivated audiences during his time at Duke University. A two-time consensus All-American, Williams averaged 19.3 points and 6.0 assists per game, leading the Blue Devils to the NCAA Championship game in 2001. In the NBA, Williams’ career was cut short due to a motorcycle accident. Despite the unfortunate end to his professional career, his impact on the court at Duke remains undeniable.
- Mike Gminski: Years Played at Duke: 1976-1980 NBA Career: 1980-1994
Mike Gminski’s dominant presence in the paint and scoring prowess made him one of the most respected centers in Duke basketball history. A two-time All-American, Gminski averaged 18.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during his college career. His exceptional play led the Blue Devils to their first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance in 1978. In the NBA, Gminski had a lengthy career, primarily playing for the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
- Zion Williamson: Years Played at Duke: 2018-2019 NBA Career: 2019-Present
Zion Williamson’s meteoric rise to stardom began during his one-year stint at Duke University. Known for his jaw-dropping athleticism and powerful dunks, Williamson captivated audiences with his dominant performances. He averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, earning numerous accolades, including being named the Naismith College Player of the Year in 2019. In the NBA, Williamson has continued to showcase his extraordinary talent, captivating fans with his explosive plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Duke University’s rich basketball history is adorned with an array of exceptional players who have left an indelible mark on the sport. From Christian Laettner to Zion Williamson, each player showcased remarkable skills and contributed to the university’s success on the court. Their impressive college careers, characterized by championships, awards, and records, laid the foundation for their subsequent accomplishments in the NBA. These ten players exemplify the legacy of excellence that Duke University has fostered throughout the years, forever etching their names in basketball history.