Irving’s gone, but hints at Duke’s consolation prize

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Duke won’t have Kyrie Irving in Durham next season – he made it official Wednesday – but during a teleconference Thursday to discuss his decision to enter the NBA draft, he let slip that the Devils might have a consolation prize coming: five-star recruit DeAndre Daniels.

Someone asked Irving, the likely No. 1 pick in June’s draft, just how good Duke could’ve been next season with him in the lineup, his response, as provided by Dan Wiederer of the Fay Observer:

“That was definitely something I thought about considerably because of the talent we’ll have next year. I think that this year’s team was really special. And I thought next year’s team would be really special if I were to return. I think we have five recruits coming in with the addition of DeAndre Daniels. So that would be really special. Because that would give me the chance to lead the team similar to what Kemba Walker has done at UConn. Just being that leader and being the go-to guy on the team. So I thought that, if I were to return, we would be a really special team.”

No kidding. The Devils already have three 5-star prospects and a 4-star recruit committed for next season. Daniels, a 6-7 forward, who’s rated a 5-star player by Rivals.com and a 4-star by Scout.com – take your pick, either one means the kid can play – would add to an already considerable talent base.

But more importantly, he would boost Duke’s frontcourt with his versatility and shooting, the only thing Duke’s missing for next season. Replacing Kyle Singler’s defense and all-around game won’t be done by anyone on the current roster (Ryan Kelly is the closest, but he’s not quick enough to guard most wings). incoming recruit Michael Gbinije and Daniels would seem to be best suited for that role.

(Caveat: Daniels’ commitment isn’t a done deal and as Wiederer notes, he’s backed out of an oral commit to Texas, and has seemed to be close to signing with both Kentucky and Kansas.)

So take heart Devils fans. Irving’s gone, but he may have given you a taste of something else you needed.

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