In the aftermath of the 2004 Final Four, losing Luol Deng after one season and Shaun Livingston before he got to campus, Coach K made a conscious decision to avoid one-year college players.
Maintaining some semblance of academic integrity was an ancillary benefit to the decision but not that primary motivating factor. The disruption of the recruiting cycle is what kept Coach K away.
Two years after Deng departed in '04, before what would be one of K's worst teams (worst being a relative term) since the early 1980s, the Duke coach was still stinging from the twin decisions of Deng and Livingston, both of whom he thought he would have for at least two seasons each.
Asked in Greensboro in the preseason how the program got the point that '06-'07 would be a rebuilding season and why Duke had lost in the Sweet 16 in two straight years, Coach K said:
"We had Luol one year and we never had Shaun," Krzyzewski said. "Those two guys would have made a huge difference."
Duke went two recruiting classes without a serious pursuit of a one-and-done prospect. Josh McRoberts, the No. 1-rated prospect in the class of '05, stayed two seasons.
The Blue Devils did sign mid-level forward prospects David McClure (in '04) and Jamal Boykin (in '05) based on the premise that both would stick around for four years, and perhaps develop into senior leaders in the mold of Shane Battier, albeit less talented.
Neither four-year project worked out according to plan. McClure, as a fifth-year senior, eventually became a functional role player. Boykin transferred to Cal after one-and-half seasons.
Only after the disappointment of 0-4 finish in March '07 did the reality of the changed recruiting landscape hit Duke.
The Devils pursued blue-chip forward Patrick Patterson, who chose Kentucky instead, and settled for another late signee, Lance Thomas, a McDonald's All-American who has started 62 games in three seasons but not made a high-level impact (see: career scoring average, 4.6).
They struck out again in the spring of '08 with top forward prospect Greg Monroe, who chose Georgetown. Again, Duke decided to add another late recruit in forward Miles Plumlee, who had committed to Stanford but decided on Duke after Cardinal coach Trent Johnson left for LSU.
Despite his size, 6-10 and 235 pounds — and Duke's need for interior size — Plumlee averaged less than 2 points in less than 7 minutes a game as a freshman.
In the immediate aftermath of the successful yet unconventional '08-'09 season, which included the ACC title, Coach K promised to hit the recruiting trail in search of a conventional point guard and a capable post option.
On Sunday, the Devils landed Seth Curry, who'll transfer from Liberty after leading all freshman scorers this past season. Curry plays neither of K's intended target positions, but he will slide nicely into the combo guard role of Jon Scheyer in '10-'11.
But Curry can't help Duke in '09-'10, a potentially great Duke team if both Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler return. Wall can, hence the mercenary's visit with Duke on Monday, a recruit K wouldn't have touched five years ago. A less desperate Coach K would have wished Wall good luck, not promised him Jason Williams' playbook.
The truth is, as Krzyzewski himself admitted it after UNC's win in Durham on Feb. 11, UNC's just better than Duke right now. And despite public protests to the opposite, by both sides when the subject is brought up, beyond winning, what matters most to both Duke and Carolina is keeping up with the other side.
Since Duke's most recent Final Four appearance ('04), UNC has been to the Final Four three times, with one title in the bag and another just 80 minutes away.
That's why Duke is back in the one-and-done business. Right or wrong, it's that simple.
Either by their own volition, or their own recruiting failures, Duke has avoided one-and-done recruits.
While Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has been criticized for this decision, Ohio State's Thad Matta has been burned by it.
Ohio State freshman B.J. Mullens declared for the NBA Draft earlier this week. Since '06-'07, OSU has had five players (Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., DeQuan Cook Kosta Koufos and Mullens) leave after just one season.
No Duke players have left after one season over the same period.
How does Duke's record compare to Ohio State's?
They have virtually the same overall winning percentage and the same conference winning percentage.
They each have a conference title — Duke in '09, OSU in '07.
They each have one Sweet 16 appearance — Duke '09, OSU in '07.
OSU went to the Final Four in '07 and Duke did not reach the Final Four in the three seasons. Duke did make the NCAA Tournament all three years, OSU did not (missed in '08).
Which program would you rather be? -- J.P. Giglio