Much has been made of Duke's depth on the wing and in the backcourt for the upcoming season. Just as noticeable, however, has been the perceived lack of depth in the front court - especially at the center position. Heading into latter half of the summer, the Blue Devils are looking for both height and strength to replace the departed Mason Plumlee. A quick review of the roster points out that both seem to be evident:
Third year players Marshall Plumlee and Alex Murphy have both struggled to find the floor during their first two seasons in the program. Murphy earned just 6.3 minutes per contest last season for Duke, while Plumlee's well-documented foot injury reduced him to just 19 appearances and 50 total minutes for the year.
Plumlee is the only true center on the roster, and has worked tirelessly over the last two seasons to add weight and strength after entering the program at just over 210 pounds. Fast forward to the summer of 2013 and the youngest of the three brothers may also turn out to be the biggest. Marshall has always been considered the traditional, back to the basket big man when compared with Mason and Miles, and now it appears he has the strength to battle in the paint. Plumlee has been listed by Duke as a 7-foot, 260 pound red-shirt sophomore for the upcoming season.
Murphy, on the other hand, came to Duke a year early and has been caught without a true position. With a couple of upperclassman heavy teams in his first two years, the Rhode Island native has struggled to find his niche. To break onto the court in 2014, he'll need to focus his efforts on rebounding and defense - likely earning minutes as a second big that can run - much like his older brother, [former Florida Gator] Erik who played both front court positions at times for Billy Donnovan, the younger Murphy has bulked up and is listed at 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds.
Sophomore forward Amile Jefferson is the projected fifth starter early on, after playing much of the 2013 season in the post despite being listed at 6-foot-9 and less than 195 pounds. An off-season weight program that balances added muscle with maintaining the fluidity that allowed Jefferson to guard four positions on the floor at times a season ago has resulted in a second year player who is listed at 6-foot-9 and 210 pounds.
Senior Josh Hairston has gone the opposite way of his younger teammates, dropping weight heading into the season. A season ago Hariston spoke about his weight and getting slimmer and faster. He'll enter his final season down to 235 pounds (from 245 a season ago), and standing 6-foot-8.
The wildcard in the post could very well be freshman Semi Ojeleye, who is listed at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds. The Kansas native has already drawn rave reviews from inside and around the program after enrolling at Duke as the team's strongest player. Not only is the freshman physically strong, he's also boasting one of the highest vertical jumps on the roster.
ON THE WING
Freshman Jabari Parker has battled weight issues over the last year as an injury severely limited his mobility and ability to prepare for most of his high school season. Now, full healthy, the Chicago area prospect is continuing to prepare for what will likely be his only collegiate season. He'll play the same role as other big wings have at Duke such as Luol Deng, Mike Dunleavy, and Kyle Singler. Parker actually comes into Durham as tall as any of his predecessors, but also bigger at 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds.
Redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood recently suffered an injury at Team USA camp, but will be ready to go by the start of the season. Hood, who has talked in depth about his transformation to the demands of the Duke program is listed at 215 pounds (up from 215) and 6-foot-8.
Fifth year senior Andre Dawkins is likely the first wing off the bench when the season starts, and will be attempting to come back from a season-long sabbatical used to deal with some personal issues off the court. Dawkins returns to Duke listed at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds after enrolling early for the 2010 season at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds.