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Old 08-26-09, 08:23 PM
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From Grant Hill to Shane Battier: The History of the Duke NBA Player

From Grant Hill to Shane Battier: The History of the Duke NBA Player
by Mike B. (Scribe) Written on August 25, 2009


For some reason, it seems like almost everybody hates Duke.

I'm not sure if it's because they always recruit the top McDonald's All-Americans or because their players don't usually pan out in the NBA.

Either way, Duke is one of college basketball's most successful programs and has produced over 50 NBA players.

While some have proven to be major busts, others have either been All-Stars or solid role players.

A guy by the name of Bob Gantt was the NBA's first ever player out of Duke. His career lasted only 23 games in which he scored 71 total points during the 1946-47 season.

In 1952, Dick Groat became the first Duke player to be drafted. He was selected by the Fort Wayne Pistons with the third overall pick. Marin played one season in the NBA before switching to Major League Baseball, where he went on to be a five-time All-Star shortstop.

After winning the National Player of the Year Award, Art Heymanbecame the first player from Duke to be drafted No. 1 overall. He was selected by the New York Knicks in the 1963 draft and averaged 13.0 points per game during his six-year career in the NBA and ABA.

In the early 1970's, talented Duke stars Jeff Mullins and Jack Marin both made multiple trips to the All-Star game.

Mike Gminski arrived on the NBA scene in 1980. During his 14-year career, he was one of the best free throw-shooting big men in the league.

One of college basketball's greatest players of all time, Johnny Dawkins, was Duke's first NBA lottery pick in 1986. The former Naismith winner went on to become a solid point guard at the next level.

Another Naismith winner, Danny Ferry, was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the second overall pick in the 1989 draft.

Labeled the next Larry Bird, the 6'10" Ferry was a bit of a disappointment. He spent 13 seasons in the league but only averaged seven points and 2.8 rebounds per game for his career.


Christian Laettner was the third overall pick in the 1992 draft behind Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning.

After leading Duke to back-to-back-back championships, he was perhaps the most hyped player in school history. However, Laettner's college success didn't quite translate to the pros, as he only made one All-Star appearance in 13 seasons.

Laettner's teammate, Bobby Hurley, made his NBA debut in 1993 as a member of the Sacramento Kings. The NCAA's all-time assist leader was enjoying a solid rookie campaign until he was injured in a car accident.

Hurley returned to the court the following season but only managed to play four more years.

In 1994, Grant Hill was the third overall pick in the draft. The 6'8" forward was drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan and was supposed to lead the Detroit Pistons back to their winning ways.

Hill didn't disappoint during his first six seasons in the league, as he was one of the league's best players.

But after going to the Orlando Magic in a sign-and-trade deal in 2000, Hill became hampered with injuries and was never quite the same player again. Undoubtedly, Hill could have been a first ballot Hall of Famer.

The 1999 NBA draft produced four Duke players within the first 14 picks. Elton Brand went first, Trajan Langdon went 11th, Corey Maggette was selected 13th, and William Avery was chosen with the 14th pick.

While Brand and Maggette turned out to be stars, Langdon and Avery only managed to last three seasons.

Defensive specialist Shane Battier was drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies with the sixth overall pick in the 2001 draft. After guiding the Blue Devils to a national championship and winning all of the player of the year awards, Battier emerged as one of the league's most respected role players.

The 2002 draft brought in Battier's teammates Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Carlos Boozer.

Williams had a promising rookie year with the Chicago Bulls before getting injured in a motorcycle accident the following summer. He attempted several comebacks but was unsuccessful.

Struggling during his first few seasons in Golden State, Dunleavy improved significantly after being traded to the Indiana Pacers.

Although Boozer was a second-round pick, he emerged as a two-time All-Star. He also helped the USA win the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Luol Deng and Chris Duhon were drafted by the Bulls in 2004, and both players contributed to the Bulls' resurgence.

The dangerous inside-outside duo of Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick headed to the NBA in 2006. Williams was taken by the Atlanta Hawks with the fifth overall pick. Redick was selected 11th by the Magic.

Williams so far has been a major bust, and Redick, one of college basketball's greatest shooters, has also been a disappointment.

Gerald Henderson, the latest Duke lottery pick, may turn out to be just what the Charlotte Bobcats need to jump into the playoffs this season. We'll see.

In conclusion, you always hear that Duke players don't ever amount to much in the NBA, but if guys like Grant Hill and Jay Williams hadn't got injured, it probably wouldn't be much of a debate.

From Grant Hill to Shane Battier: The History of the Duke NBA Player | Bleacher Report
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Old 08-27-09, 12:38 PM
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so of all the duke players, only danny ferry has a ring...
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Old 08-27-09, 02:01 PM
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So all that was keeping the Bobcats out of the playoffs last year was another mediocre Duke-produced NBA role player??
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