Since losing to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament, there has been little in the way of bad news for Duke basketball. Brandon Ingram’s departure to the NBA Draft was expected and treated like a celebration. A few days after Ingram’s announcement, fellow All-ACC star Grayson Allen chose the pursuit of a national title over an early exit and bolstered Duke’s spot at the top of CBS Sports’ Top 25 (and one) for 2017.
Now senior forward Amile Jefferson, sidelined by a foot injury for all but nine games of the 2015-16 season, has received the waiver necessary to play one year in Durham.
Before his injury, Jefferson averaged 11.4 points and 10.3 rebounds as a starting power forward. But the double-double averages don’t properly highlight his value to Duke’s program. This is a player with 115 games of experience, including 68 starts, who knows exactly what Mike Krzyzewski wants from his team and what’s necessary to win a national title.
Duke now has four of its top five scorers returning from 2016 to join a freshman class that ranks No. 2 in the country and is headlined by Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum — two players that potentially could be the top two picks in the 2017 NBA Draft.