Duke already was excited about adding the nation’s top-ranked high school guard to its roster next season. They learned Tuesday they’ll be welcoming the top small forward, too.
But there’s one catch.
Guard Austin Rivers will graduate next month as a member of the Class of 2011. Alex Murphy is in the Class of 2012, but he already has met all of the university’s academic requirements and will enroll at Duke a year early. That means he’ll have a chance to play with the Blue Devils in China and Dubai in August and hopefully work himself into the regular-season rotation.
Murphy has been labeled a “clone” of former Duke standout Kyle Singler, a versatile small forward who played his last college game earlier this month. If that’s truly the case, Murphy – who chose Duke over Kansas, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina – should see significant playing time in 2011-12.
Here’s a list of other freshmen (with a limit of one per school) who will have a chance to make an immediate impact next season.
G Brad Beal, Florida: Beal, from St. Louis, instantly becomes the top player in a loaded Gators backcourt that also will include Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario and returnees Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. At 6 feet 4 and 195 pounds, Beal gives the undersized unit some much-needed strength and bulk.
F Chane Behanan, Louisville: The 6-foot-6 Behanan is an athletic forward who excels on the perimeter and in the paint. Incredibly agile for a 250-pounder, Behanan – from Bowling Green, Ky. – presents a huge matchup problem. He’ll help a Louisville squad that has strong chemistry but lacks star power.
G Jabari Brown, Oregon: Landing Brown was a huge coup for the Ducks, who won the CBI this season, their first under coach Dana Altman. The 6-foot-5 Brown, an Oakland native, might be the top shooter in the Class of 2011. He may not be able to lead Oregon to the NCAA tournament next season, but if the Ducks add another player or two of his caliber, watch out.
F DeAndre Daniels, undecided: Daniels still is trying to decide between Kansas, Duke, Texas, Oregon and Kentucky. No matter which school he chooses, Daniels – who attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. – is expected to have an immediate impact. That especially would be the case at Kansas, where he would compete for a starting job alongside Thomas Robinson. Duke also is in need of help down low, especially offensively.
F Anthony Davis, Kentucky: Some analysts believe the headliner of Kentucky’s top-ranked recruiting class is the top overall prospect in the country. The 6-foot-10 Davis has grown 8 inches in the past year and has a tremendous upside. Davis, a Chicago native, already has guaranteed a national championship in Lexington next season – a hefty promise from a player who was named the co-MVP of last week’s Jordan Brand Classic.
F James McAdoo, North Carolina: The Tar Heels will boast the country’s top frontcourt thanks to the addition of McAdoo, who will join a cast that includes future first-round NBA draft picks Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Described by recruiting analysts as a “hybrid” forward, McAdoo – from Norfolk, Va. – can score with his back to the basket and also has face-up skills. He was the other co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic.
F Quincy Miller, Baylor: Some of Miller’s competitors voted him as the “biggest trash-talker” on the AAU circuit. He certainly has plenty to brag about. Miller, from High Point, N.C., would’ve made a push for Rivals.com’s No. 1 overall ranking if not for an ACL injury that ended his senior season before it began. He’ll be at full strength by the time practices begin in Waco, and the Bears will have a scary frontcourt with Miller and returnees Perry Jones and Quincy Acy.
G Austin Rivers, Duke: A backcourt featuring Rivers and Kyrie Irving would’ve been impossible to stop, but Irving understandably bolted for the NBA. The Blue Devils still will be in good shape with Rivers, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit. While Irving was great at involving all his teammates, Rivers – from the Orlando suburb of Winter Park – looks to create his shot and score a little bit more.
F Adonis Thomas, Memphis: A tenacious rebounder and low-post scorer, Thomas brings some much-needed athleticism and strength to an undersized Tigers frontcourt that loses Will Coleman. Coach Josh Pastner won a major recruiting battle when he landed the 6-foot-6 Thomas, a Memphis native who also considered Florida, UCLA and Arkansas.
G Josiah Turner, Arizona: With Derrick Williams heading to the NBA, Turner could become the Wildcats’ star player as a freshman. Lamont Jones, who started at point guard this past season, had an excellent performance in the NCAA tournament, but Turner – who picked Arizona over Kansas – is on a different level. Turner is a native of Sacramento, Calif., who changed high schools in January of this year; he finished up his senior season at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C.
F Cody Zeller, Indiana: The brother of North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller, Cody is the best player Hoosiers coach Tom Crean has signed. The only problem for Zeller is that the expectations will be huge from a fan base that may be losing patience as Crean attempts to rebuild IU’s program. Zeller, from Washington, Ind., needs to add some weight to his 215-pound frame.