Monday, April 19, 2010

Singler's return makes Duke a favorite

Forward Kyle Singler announced Monday night that he will return to Duke for his senior season, paving the way for the Blue Devils to be ranked in the national top 10 and possibly as high as No. 1 in the preseason polls.

As a junior last season, Singler was named the most outstanding player of the Final Four after scoring a game-high 19 points in Duke’s 61-59 win over Butler in the NCAA championship game on April 5 in Indianapolis.

"I love being here at Duke and am excited about next year,” Singler said in a statement released by the school. “I had two great options in front of me, but I did not want to miss out on all of the great things to come in a senior season.”

Singler averaged 17.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season while leading the Blue Devils to a 35-5 record and their fourth NCAA title. His return will make Duke an overwhelming favorite to win the ACC.

Duke is losing senior starters Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas off the NCAA championship team.

"I have to think that it puts them pretty high in the pecking order,” veteran TV analyst Dan Bonner said of Singler’s return. “Definitely I would say a preseason top 10. Obviously they lost Jon Scheyer and they don’t have Zoubek [or Thomas]. . . .Those are three pretty important guys, and I don’t think you can automatically say that makes them a Final Four pick because those are significant losses and they’ll have to deal with that.”

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said Singler’s return will make the Blue Devils a top candidate for the No. 1 spot in the preseason polls along with Michigan State and possibly Purdue if all of the Boilermakers’ underclassmen return.

Guard Nolan Smith, who averaged 17.4 points per game last season, also returns as a senior to combine with Singler to give the Blue Devils plenty of experience. Duke also has two talented post players returning in Mason and Miles Plumlee.

Highly rated point guard recruit Kyrie Irving, who’s been compared to former Duke standout Jason Williams, will join the team next season. And shooting guard Seth Curry – who led the nation’s freshmen in scoring for Liberty in 2008-09 before transferring to Duke – will become eligible in what could be a loaded backcourt.

"That makes Duke the most formidable team,” Bilas said of Singler’s return. “Even thought they lost a lot, to have Singler and Nolan Smith and a guard like Kyrie Irving coming in, that puts them near the top rung in that conversation.”

Singler is expected to holding a news conference Tuesday morning to discuss his decision. Efforts to reach his father, Ed Singler, on Monday night were unsuccessful.

Ed Singler said last week that his son’s performance in the NCAA tournament had improved his standing with NBA scouts. Information Ed Singler was getting indicated that Singler made himself a likely first-round pick, with a forecasted draft position somewhere between the teens and the 30th and final selection of the first round

One question that remains is what role Singler, who’s 6-foot-8, will fill next season. He played power forward and even some center during his first two seasons, but played mostly on the wing as a junior on a team that lacked backcourt depth.

With Smith, Irving, Curry and Andre Dawkins on the roster next season, though, Duke will be strong on the perimeter. And the departures of Thomas and Zoubek in the post leave the Blue Devils a bit thin when it comes to big men.

In a statement Monday night, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said only that he is looking forward to coaching Singler in his senior season and seeing him develop more as a player and a leader. Bilas predicted that Krzyzewski will use Singler like a queen on a chess board, using him in a multitude of roles as necessary without the constraint of naming a position for him.

However Duke uses him, it’s clear that the Blue Devils will be a lot better with Singler in the lineup.

"To have a senior of his caliber is really unusual,” Bilas said. “That’s a nice thing for any coach to have a senior with his talent level back.”

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

NBA-caliber white boy comes back to school to get a degree? Sheesh...typical Dookie.

Anonymous said...

Funny, some guy did the same thing two years ago. Hans-something. Typical UNC white boy I guess.