As a rule, I don’t talk about the future of the Dukes until after the current season ends, but in order to discuss what to expect in the Duquesne spring recruiting primer, I felt I needed to look beyond 2014. When I previewed fall recruiting, I said that the staff could find it difficult to sign top players because the team doesn’t have a lot of short term playing time available. Likewise, the coaches wouldn’t know if they had any busts on their hands to recruit over. Thirteen games into the season, Duquesne’s recruiting position hasn’t changed as the 2013s have more or less worked out and done about what you could expect. In other words, you probably can’t project much more playing time available than there was before the season.
To look at where the staff might go in the spring, I thought it would make sense to break down the Dukes immediate and long term needs by position.
Derick Colter currently is the primary option at point guard and will likely remain the starter. Desmond Ridenour backs him up and while not a true point guard, he could develop into the role nicely.
Immediate Needs: For all the belly aching that I see from Duquesne fans regarding Colter, I don’t see an outside replacement in his future. He’d be more difficult to supplant than most people expect, because truly, he’s better than most people give him credit for being. He currently ranks second in the A-10 in assist to turnover ratio and while his scoring has decreased this season, he has taken fewer shots and has all around played a more efficient game. Finding a four year player who could replace Colter as a junior and who would commit to Duquesne seems nearly impossible. The only realistic external upgrade would come in the form of JUCO or graduate transfer, but I think the Dukes could use their scholarships more effectively elsewhere. Ridenour will make a better than average backup and likely poses the greatest threat to Colter’s playing time.
Long Term Needs: Point guard appears set for the next two years at least and if early 2015 recruiting strategies continue, the staff looks likely to target their next floor general then.
Sophomores Jeremiah Jones and Micah Mason both appear to have their jobs on lock for the rest of their time on the Bluff. Jerry Jones will graduate following this season and Tra’vaughn White likely will receive the most minutes off the bench. LG Gill seems more natural on the wing and could change positions. Eric James has verbally committed to Duquesne.
Immediate Needs: Someone will need to play Jerry Jones’ sixteen minutes, and while the three returning wings will likely consume some of them, they can’t eat them all. The remaining 7-10 minutes of playing time will be available and should Gill move to the wing, I could easily see him taking all of them. I could see Eric James doing the same if he comes.
Long Term Needs: White will graduate in 2015 and both Mason and Jeremiah bolt in 2016. Should Gill stay inside, the wing is wide open in two years especially if James elects to re-open his recruitment. The Dukes need at least two wings in the next two classes if they plan to stick with four year players. A solid transfer could also tempt Ferry here.
Ovie Soko is unfortunately one and done for the Dukes. Dominique McKoy is two and done. The Dukes got four post players and stretch threes in class of 2013, but none have established themselves yet and they lose their best inside presence at the end of the season.
Immediate Needs: The Dukes have power forward wide open next year. Isaiah Watkins looked like the heir apparent, but his injuries may have derailed his accent for the time being. Jordan Robinson hasn’t even seen the practice court yet and probably looks more like McKoy’s replacement than Soko’s anyway. Gill might fair better on the wing long term. If Darius Lewis’ developmental track continues at the trajectory it’s moved in, he’ll play but probably still not in a big role. When I look at the entire picture for next year inside, it has me thinking junior college.
- Long Term Needs: While a greater short term need has arisen in the post, the long term picture remains unchanged. Given another year to develop, I think Watkins should step up to next level and become an average or above average four. Robinson has the potential to be around for four more years depending on how the NCAA rules. If the Dukes do go JUCO, they could bring Watkins and Robinson along slower and add depth beyond 2015. They will need another long term piece either this year or next.
- So what will the Dukes do? I think a four year wing and a JUCO post player are no brainers at this point and if James honors his verbal as he plans to, Ferry already has one of those pieces in place. The last scholarship depends on how they want to use Gill. If the staff see him as a wing, I think they need to add a post player. If they see him as a post player, I think they need to add a wing. Of course, they still have the best player available option in their back pocket and a situation at wing ripe for a D-1 transfer.
- Personally, I believe the Dukes’ class of 2014 will help more in the long term than the short. The current roster doesn’t look like swiss cheese and they have no real reason for the next class to save the program. If the team is going to win in 2015 or 2016, they either already have most of their key pieces in place or it simply won’t happen.