The short list: Replacing Rasheed Sulaimon

With Rasheed Sulaimon's departure, Duke is left with eight eligible scholarship players on the roster.
With Rasheed Sulaimon's departure, Duke is left with eight eligible scholarship players on the roster.

Mike Krzyzewski’s unprecedented dismissal of junior Rasheed Sulaimon from the Duke basketball program did more than send shockwaves through the college basketball world—it left the Blue Devils with an open spot on the roster.

Debuting an eight-man rotation featuring its only eight scholarship players, Duke used a late comeback to triumph at then-No. 2 Virginia Saturday, earning a statement win in a time of uncertainty for the program.

The victory showed that the Blue Devils are plenty capable of beating high-quality teams with this lineup, but having an eight-man rotation leaves any team with kiddie-pool-levels of depth. One false step could mean an injury that derails the remainder of Duke’s season. With a few days to regroup before Wednesday’s game against Georgia Tech, Krzyzewski, like any great military man, should seek reinforcements. With so many world-class athletes at his University, it shouldn’t be that hard... right?

So get your resumes ready, kids. We’re going to see who at Duke might be the best person to fill that open roster spot.

Myles Jones (midfielder, Duke men’s lacrosse): This junior might be the single most athletic person on Duke’s campus. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Jones has the ability to deliver a crushing hit and blow past defenders at breakneck speed. Thanks to his superior size and speed, Jones is the biggest matchup nightmare in college lacrosse. On his way to earning second-team All-America honors and leading the Blue Devils to a national championship a season ago, Jones netted 37 goals and dished out 26 assists—50 of his 63 points came in the final 11 of the Blue Devils’ 20 games.

In addition to being one of the nation’s top lacrosse players, Jones has an extensive basketball background. He was a 1,000-point scorer at Walt Whitman High School in South Huntington, N.Y., earning all-Long Island honors. Jones also played basketball during his postgraduate year at Salisbury School in Connecticut and wound up with scholarship offers to play at Xavier and Richmond.

During last year’s NCAA tournament run, Jones said Krzyzewski had reached out to him before he came to Duke about potentially suiting up for the Blue Devils on the hardwood after his lacrosse career was over. Krzyzewski and men’s lacrosse head coach John Danowski had agreed not to discuss the arrangement until after Jones had exhausted his lacrosse eligibility, but Danowski’s team is on the heels of back-to-back national championships and Krzyzewski’s squad is one injury away from being woefully understaffed. It might be time for those two to talk.

Did I mention that Jones was an all-county quarterback as well? Looks like David Cutcliffe might have to get in line.

After examining some game tape from high school, Jones’ athleticism definitely translates to the basketball court. As expected, he is very powerful around the glass and explosive around the rim, playing like an undersized power forward. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone as physically gifted as Jones had the range to match.

Rebecca Greenwell (guard, Duke women’s basketball): Krzyzewski doesn’t have to leave his building for this one. After sitting out last season to recover from a torn ACL, Greenwell is quickly becoming the Blue Devils’ next young star. Averaging 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, the 6-foot-1 redshirt freshman could help make up for the loss of Sulaimon’s 3-point shooting, hitting 36.6 percent from beyond the arc. Greenwell also has substantial eligibility remaining, which is a plus.

Greenwell’s addition to Krzyzewski’s squad would be groundbreaking, as she would become the first woman to suit up in a Division I men’s college basketball game. But hey, it’s 2015—and I’d say as far as universities go, Duke is pretty post-gender. The better question is, would Krzyzewski be able to wrestle one of Blue Devil women’s basketball head coach Joanne P. McCallie’s best players away from her mid-season? That sounds like some must-see drama.

DeVon Edwards (safety, Duke football): Cutcliffe often tells the story of the first time he saw Edwards—on the basketball court. Edwards starred on the hardwood for Alcovy High School in Covington, Ga., where as a senior he was rated the 12th-best player in the state. The safety stood out to Cutcliffe because despite his generous listing of 5-foot-9 on Duke’s roster, he was also his team’s leading rebounder. Throughout Edwards’ rise from relative unknown on the gridiron to stardom as an All-America return specialist, Cutcliffe has spun a number of yarns about his safety’s ability to dunk with two hands.

Although the redshirt junior probably wouldn’t be much help out on the wing at his size, Edwards would bring a whole lot of heart and slap-the-floor defense to the Blue Devil backcourt. And no team can ever be short on that.

Daniel Carp (washed-up sports writer, The Chronicle): It’s my list, so I can put myself on it if I want to. I think I have all the qualities announcers love to talk about when discussing walk-on basketball players—high basketball IQ, scrappiness and a relentless work ethic.

Standing at 6-foot-3 but boasting little back-to-the-basket prowess, I consider myself more of a stretch-four—if stretching means still staying inside 18 feet. I have a reasonably soft touch on my mid-range jumper and, more often than not, can make it up and down the court without tripping over myself. My wingspan makes Jay Bilas salivate. After averaging eight points per game for the AEPi intramural basketball team, I really think it’s time to take my basketball career to the next level.

So Coach K, what do you say? I’ll be awaiting your call.


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