Duke Basketball

What follows is a summary of Duke Basketball and its history. We will update this reference page soon with recruiting results and team roster as well.

The Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team represents Duke University in NCAA Division I college basketball and competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The team is fourth all-time in wins of any NCAA men’s basketball program, and is currently coached by Mike Krzyzewski.

Duke has won 5 NCAA Championships (tied with Indiana for fourth all-time behind UCLA, Kentucky and North Carolina) and appeared in 11 Championship Games (third all-time) and 16 Final Fours (fourth all-time behind North Carolina, UCLA, and Kentucky). Duke has an NCAA-best .755 NCAA tournament winning percentage. Eleven Duke players have been named the National Player of the Year, and 71 players have been selected in the NBA Draft. Additionally, Duke has had 36 players named All-Americans (chosen 60 times) and 14 players named Academic All-Americans. Duke has been the Atlantic Coast Conference Champions a record 21 times, and also lays claim to 19 ACC regular season titles. Prior to joining the ACC, Duke won the Southern Conference championships five times. Duke has also finished the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll seven times and is the all-time leader in total weeks ranked as the number one team in the nation by the AP with 135 weeks. The Blue Devils have the third longest streak in the AP Top 25 in history with 200 consecutive appearances from 1996 to 2007, trailing only Kansas’s 231 consecutive polls from 2009 to 2021, and UCLA’s 221 consecutive polls from 1966 to 1980.

Retired numbers and Retired basketball jerseys
Number Player Year
10 Dick Groat 1952
43 Mike Gminski 1980
24 Johnny Dawkins 1986
35 Danny Ferry 1989
25 Art Heyman 1990
32 Christian Laettner 1992
11 Bobby Hurley 1993
33 Grant Hill 1994
44Jeff Mullins1994
31 Shane Battier 2001
22 Jay Williams 2003
23 Shelden Williams 2007
4 JJ Redick 2007 

Early years and Origins (1906–1953)

​In 1906, Wilbur Wade Card, Trinity College’s Athletic Director and a member of the Class of 1900, introduced the game of basketball to Trinity. The January 30 issue of The Trinity Chronicle headlined the new sport on its front page. Trinity’s first game ended in a loss to Wake Forest, 24–10. The game was played in the Angier B. Duke Gymnasium, later known as The Ark. The Trinity team won its first title in 1920, the state championship, by beating the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering (now NC State) 25 to 24.

Earlier in the season they had beaten the University of North Carolina 19–18 in the first match-up between the two schools. Trinity college then became Duke University.
Billy Werber, Class of 1930, became Duke’s first All-American in basketball. The Gothic-style West Campus opened that year, with a new gym, later to be named for Coach Card. The Indoor Stadium opened in 1940. Initially it was referred to as an “Addition” to the gymnasium. Part of its cost was paid for with the proceeds from the Duke football team’s appearance in the 1938 Rose Bowl. In 1972 it would be named for Eddie Cameron, head coach from 1929 to 1942.

In 1952, Dick Groat became the first Duke player to be named National Player of the Year. Duke left the Southern Conference to become a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953. The Duke team under Vic Bubas made its first appearance in the Final Four in 1963, losing 94–75 to Loyola in the semifinal. The next year, Bubas’ team reached the national title game, losing to the Bruins of UCLA, who claimed 10 titles in the next 12 years. Bob Verga was Duke’s star player in 1967.

Bill Foster (1974–1980)
The basketball program won its 1000th game in 1974, making Duke only the eighth school in NCAA history to reach that figure. In a turnaround, Coach Bill Foster’s 1978 Blue Devils, who had gone 2–10 in the ACC the previous year, won the conference tournament and went on to the NCAA championship game, where they fell to Kentucky. Gene Banks, Mike Gminski (’80) and Jim Spanarkel (’79) ran the floor.

Mike Krzyzewski (1980–present)
Mike Krzyzewski has been at Duke since 1980. His many accomplishments include:

  • 5 National Championships – 2nd most all time
  • 12 Final Fours (most since 1984–85) as well as five in a row from 1988 to 1992. Now tied for most all time with John Wooden at 12.
  • 16 Elite Eights
  • 25 Sweet Sixteens (most since 1984–85) and nine straight from 1998–2006
  • 35 NCAA tournament berths
  • 97 NCAA tournament wins (most ever)
  • 14 No. 1 seeds
  • 27 conference titles (12 regular season, 15 tournament), 10 of the 13 ACC Tournament Titles from 1998–99 through 2010-11
  • 15 30-win seasons
  • 36 20-win seasons
  • Number 1 AP ranking in 17 of the past 28 seasons
  • 8 Naismith College Player of the Year Awards
  • 9 National Defensive Players of the Year Awards
  • 26 AP All-Americans
  • 14 consensus first team All-Americans
  • 11 NBA top-10 picks: T-1st
  • 23 NBA Draft first round picks
  • 1071 Career wins

Krzyzewski’s teams made the Final Four twelve times total.
In Krzyzewski’s first season, the Blue Devils would finish the season with a 17–13 overall record and 6–8 record in ACC play. The team would later play in the NIT Tournament advancing to the quarterfinals. Despite having a good record the previous season, the Blue Devils would struggle during the next two seasons finishing with 10 wins in 1982 and 11 wins in 1983. The 1984 team, led by Tommy Amaker & Johnny Dawkins, would bounce back in strong fashion finishing 24–10 and was ranked the No.14 in the AP and Coaches poll and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Duke upset the heavily favored UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 79–77 in the Final Four in 1991, a rematch of the 1990 final in which Duke lost by 30 points. The team, led by Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, and Thomas Hill, went on to defeat Kansas 72–65 to win the university’s first NCAA Championship. Ranked #1 all season and favored to repeat as national champions in 1992, Duke took part in a game “acclaimed by many as the greatest college basketball game ever played,” according to ESPN. 

In the Elite Eight, Duke met the Rick Pitino-led Kentucky Wildcats. It appeared Kentucky had sealed the win in overtime when guard Sean Woods hit a running shot off the glass in the lane to put Kentucky up by one with 2.1 seconds left on the clock. After a timeout, Duke’s Grant Hill threw a full-court pass to Christian Laettner. Laettner took one dribble and nailed a turn-around jumper at the buzzer to send Duke into the Final Four with a 104–103 victory. Duke went on to defeat sixth-seeded Michigan, led by the Fab Five as freshmen starters including Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard, 71–51 to repeat as national champions. Following the successful repeat, Laettner was the only collegiate player to be chosen for the Dream Team that won Olympic gold in Barcelona, while Krzyzewski was an assistant coach under Chuck Daly of the Detroit Pistons in a precursor to his becoming Team USA coach in 2006 and coaching them to two gold medals.

They would later meet Kentucky for another classic regional final game, but blow a 17-point second half lead in losing to the Wildcats. The Blue Devils would lose the 1994 title game to Arkansas and their “Forty Minutes of Hell” defense. The next two seasons would see them fall to just 31–31, though they made the 1996 tournament with an 18–12 record, 8–8 in conference play. They would also fall in the 1999 title game, this time to Jim Calhoun and the UCONN Huskies. Duke defeated Arizona 82–72 to win its third NCAA Championship in 2001, becoming one of a handful of teams in NCAA Tournament history to defeat all of their tournament opponents by double digits. Krzyzewski was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame later that year. On April 5, 2010 Duke Men’s Basketball won their fourth NCAA Championship by defeating Butler 61–59. On April 6, 2015 Duke’s Men’s Basketball won their fifth NCAA Championship by defeating Wisconsin 68–63.

Duke has been ranked as the #1 team in the nation 235 weeks in their history.

Former Duke stars such as 
Jim Spanarkel, Gene Banks,  Johnny Dawkins, Cherokee Parks, Bobby Hurley, Antonio Lang, Roshown McLeod, William Avery, Trajan Langdon, Grant Hill, Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Brian Davis, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Chris Duhon, Mike Dunleavy, Dahntay Jones, Daniel Ewing, JJ Redick, Shavlik Randolph, Shelden Williams, Corey Maggette, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Gerald Henderson, Andre Dawkins, Austin Rivers, Lance Thomas, Kyle Singler, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Marshall Plumlee,  Quinn Cook, Nolan Smith, Jason Williams, Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, Seth Curry, Kyrie Irving, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles,  Gary Trent Jr., Trevon Duval, Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., RJ Barrett, Marques Bolden, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson, Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., and Cassius Stanley have gone on to play in the NBA.

Many of Krzyzewski’s assistants and former players, such as  Chuck Swenson at William & Mary, Mike Brey (Delaware and Notre Dame), Jeff Capel (VCU, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh), Chris Collins (Northwestern), Johnny Dawkins (Stanford, UCF), Quin Snyder (Missouri, Utah Jazz), and Steve Wojciechowski (Marquette) have become head basketball coaches at major universities and the NBA, while Pete Gaudet is now the head coach of the India women’s national basketball team.