Earlier today I was thinking about one of the articles I want to write after the season is over. I was thinking about Duke’s team next year, with everyone returning and three McDonald’s All-Americans coming in. Josh McRoberts didn’t live up to preseason expectations, but if you ignore his high school accolades, he still has a pretty promising future as a college player. With another year of practice and maturity to go with his current skills and athletic ability, he could still develop into an All-American-caliber player.
Little did I suspect that just an hour later I’d hear that McRoberts has decided to go pro. Wow. This isn’t nearly as surprising as Shavlik Randolph leaving early, but it did catch me off guard. I thought he might leave last year, but after this season? Could any NBA team really be salivating over this guy? He couldn’t dominate in college and showed all kinds of red flags – an unwillingness to bang, a tendency to shy away from big shots, a fragile ego, a generally poor grasp of how to use his talents. All of those weaknesses are correctable, but the NBA is a damn difficult place to learn. This isn’t exactly a Will Avery situation – 6’3″ guards are a dime-a-dozen so if you can’t play right away, you’ll get cut – but it’s just really hard to imagine that he can succeed at the next level. Sure, he’ll make a team and stay in the league for at least a few years – if Randolph can do it, McRoberts can – but anything more than that is going to require a complete attitude readjustment.
On the flip side, I’m pretty sure this is a good thing for Duke. Clearly this year’s team had some problems with chemistry. They didn’t play often as a cohesive unit and were generally less than the sum of their parts. When that’s the case, losing your “best” player is often the best thing that can happen. Instead of everyone waiting around for McRoberts to grow a pair and become a leader, they can rally around each other and let Paulus step up as the unquestioned captain (although I’m sure DeMarcus Nelson will be co-captain). Duke still has a lot of young, developing talent and has more on the way. If their jersey said something like “Clemson” or “Virginia” on the front instead of “Duke,” they’d have everyone optimistically looking toward next year and wondering how a school like that acquired so many players.
Don’t be surprised when the rumors start leaking out that Krzyzewski pushed McRoberts out the door. Maybe K has heard of the Ewing Theory.

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