Despite losing two first-round picks in the 2014 NBA draft in Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, the Duke Blue Devils are ready to take another step forward to try to get coach Mike Krzyzewski's fifth national championship.
One reason is the nation's No. 1 recruit, freshman Jahlil Okafor, who was named first-team All-America by the Associated Press even though he hasn't played one minute of college basketball.
Okafor, a 6-foot-11, 270-pound center from Chicago, graces one of five regional Sports Illustrated covers this week, previewing the college basketball season. And big things are expected from the nation's top recruiting class, according to Rivals.
Okafor, along with point guard Tyus Jones, is expected to start alongside returners like senior Quinn Cook and junior Rasheed Sulaimon. The returning Blue Devils players will look to erase the memory of last season. Duke's disappointing 2013-14 saw the team reach the ACC tournament final, win 26 games, but get bounced out by Mercer in the NCAA tournament.
"When you come off a loss in the first round, you get bad credit. Your credit isn't where it needs to be," Cook told Sports Illustrated.
Cook believes there is a formula with taking home the title this season.
"The last couple of national champions had two point guards starting," Cook said. "It can be done."
- HANNER & WINN: Ranking the top teams in college basketball: 351-1
After the cover was revealed, Duke posted a mashup of all its SI covers to its Instagram page.
A video posted by Duke Men's Basketball (@duke_mbb) on
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Also in this issue: Features on the San Francisco Giants' title run, the Arizona Cardinals' defense and a preview of the women's college basketball season.
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